Pompeo says Ethiopia-Egypt dam dispute could take months to resolve

Addis Ababa: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Tuesday that it could take “months” to resolve a dispute between Ethiopia and Egypt over a massive dam on the Nile River.

Tensions have been high in the Nile basin ever since Ethiopia broke ground on the project in 2011.

The US Treasury Department stepped in last year to facilitate talks between Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan — another downstream country — after Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi reached out to US President Donald Trump, a close ally.

The latest round of talks concluded in Washington last week, and officials have said they want to reach a deal by the end of February.

But at a press conference Tuesday in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the process could take longer.

“A great deal of work remains, but I’m optimistic that over the coming months we can resolve this,” he said.

Ethiopia says the dam — which will be the largest hydropower plant in Africa — is crucial for its growing economy.

Egypt fears the project will disrupt the river that provides 90 percent of its drinking water.

Addisu Lashitew, an analyst at the Brookings Institution in Washington, said he expected Pompeo “will be trying to make a final push” to reach a deal during his stay in Ethiopia. – AFP �