By Addis Getachew and Seleshi Tessema
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AA) - U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo has said his government “won’t impose a solution” on Ethiopia in negotiations with Egypt and Sudan regarding the $5 billion Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) project.
The remarks were in response to a question during a news conference in Addis Ababa that his government clearly takes sides with Egypt in the U.S.-sponsored talks between Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan on the filling and operation of GERD.
Pompeo said it was an initiative of U.S. President Donald Trump launched in November to provide the three countries an opportunity to resolve differences though dialogue after the last trilateral technical talks failed to bring about a breakthrough.
The three countries met seven times, including last week in Washington, but no conclusive agreement has been made.
Egypt says it fears GERD would significantly reduce Nile River water flowing into its borders while Ethiopia maintains it needs the hydro power scheme for its national development.
Concerning the agreement the U.S. is co-writing for consideration with negotiating teams of the three countries, Pompeo said, "we are working on it, and the final element of an agreement is coming to finality, but still work remains to be done."
“In the coming few months we would find a solution,” he said. “I am optimistic.”
Trump made it a priority to work with the three countries to ‘’get a good outcome, to effectively mediate,” he said.
Pompeo and his Ethiopian counterpart, Gedu Andargachew, said regional security featured prominently during their discussions. Pompeo also met and held discussed with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and President Sahle-Work Zewde.
"Our relationship provides strong foundation cooperation on matters of security," he said. “We have committed ourselves … fighting against al-Shabab and other Islamist terror."
He noted the institutional strength of the African Union serves as a mechanism of conflict prevention.
"Peace in Africa is won by Africans," he said.
"The Abiy administration believes in inclusive democracy so does America. We talked about upcoming Ethiopian elections. A free and credible elections where everyone has a voice.’’