Egypt, Ethiopia to meet in Washington over Nile dam

A boy looks from the observation deck of the Cairo Tower in the centre of the Egyptian capital on October 23, 2019, at a view of the Nile river flowing through the city between the central downtown (background) and Zamalek districts (foreground). (AFP)
Updated 30 October 2019

Egypt, Ethiopia to meet in Washington over Nile dam

  • Addis Ababa insists its $4 billion hydro-electric dam is necessary to provide the country with electricity
  • Egypt fears the structure could drastically stem the flow of the Nile

CAIRO: Egypt’s foreign minister confirmed Tuesday that his country would take part in mediated talks in Washington next month over a controversial dam Ethiopia is building on the Nile.
Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia “will meet in the United States on 6 November... to break the deadlock in the ongoing negotiations regarding the Renaissance Dam,” Sameh Shoukry said at a press conference held with his German counterpart Heiko Maas.
Addis Ababa insists its $4 billion hydro-electric barrage is necessary to provide the country with much-needed electricity.
But Egypt fears the structure could drastically stem the flow of the Nile, on which it depends for around 90 percent of its water supply.
After calling for international mediation to break the stalemate in nine-year talks, Cairo accepted a US invitation to meet earlier in the month, but no date was set.
Shoukry noted Tuesday that US officials would be present at the talks acting as “intermediaries that can draw divergent viewpoints closer together...to bring about a fair and just agreement.”
A US official said earlier this month that President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi had asked US President Donald Trump to get involved in the dispute when they met in September on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.
Trump agreed to reach out to Ethiopia and offered the “good offices” of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to mediate, the official said on condition of anonymity.
Ethiopia and Egypt’s leaders met on the sidelines of Russia’s Africa summit on Thursday to discuss a contentious dam project on the River Nile, a diplomat said.
Russia, which was hosting an Africa Summit in its Black Sea resort of Sochi in an attempt to revive its Soviet-era influence on the continent, has said it is ready to play a role in resolving the conflict.
Last week, Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed told parliament that “no force can stop Ethiopia from building the dam.”
Abiy, who won this year’s Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to heal tensions with neighboring Eritrea, emphasised however that negotiations would be the best way to resolve the issue.
The Nile is a lifeline supplying both water and electricity to the 10 countries it traverses.
Its main tributaries, the White and Blue Niles, converge in Sudanese capital Khartoum before flowing north through Egypt to drain into the Mediterranean Sea.
Analysts fear the three Nile basin countries could be drawn into a conflict if the dispute is not resolved before the dam begins operating.


Banks in Lebanon reopen amid security increase

Updated 7 min 52 sec ago

Banks in Lebanon reopen amid security increase

  • Two security guards will be placed in front of each bank, and security patrols will be conducted in cities

BEIRUT: Banks in Lebanon will reopen on Tuesday after the Association of Banks in Lebanon approved measures to ease the anger of depositors and customers. 

More than 3,000 members of Beirut’s police, the regional gendarmerie, the judicial police, and the information division of the Internal Security Forces will provide protection to banks and their employees, who carried out an open strike for a week.

They did so due to customers’ anger over measures applied by banks on withdrawals and transfers amid Lebanon’s severe political and economic crisis, which sparked mass protests that have been ongoing for 33 days.

Two security guards will be placed in front of each bank, and security patrols will be conducted in cities.

The Association of Banks in Lebanon decided on Sunday to “stop restrictions on new funds transferred from abroad, provided that remittances abroad only cover urgent personal expenses.”

It also decided to lift restrictions on the circulation of checks, transfers, and the use of credit cards in Lebanon. 

As for the use of credit cards abroad, ceilings are determined by agreements between banks and customers.

The association has determined a maximum cash withdrawal rate of $1,000 per week for holders of current accounts in dollars, while checks issued in foreign currencies will be transferred into their account.

It has also urged customers to “use their credit cards, especially in Lebanese pounds, to buy their needs.”

Meanwhile, protesters are preparing to block roads leading to Parliament in the heart of Beirut on Tuesday, to prevent a legislative session from taking place. The session had already been postponed for a week.

In an attempt to placate protesters, the presidential palace’s media office said the president has ordered investigations into “financial crimes, waste, forgery, money laundering and suspicious transactions,” as well as “negligence at work, promotion of counterfeit medicines and suspicious reconciliation contracts.”

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