Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed says his country “will not cave in to aggression of any kind” after President Donald Trump suggested on Friday that Egypt could destroy a controversial Nile dam at the center of a long-running dispute involving Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt.
President Trump was on the phone on Friday with Sudan’s Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in front of the reporters at the White House in Washington DC to highlight the decision by Sudan and Israel to normalize relations, when the subject of the dam came up.
Mr. Trump and Mr. Hamdok of Sudan expressed hopes for a peaceful resolution to the dispute. But President trump added that “it’s a very dangerous situation because Egypt is not going to be able to live that way.”
“And I said it and I say it loud and clear – they’ll blow up that dam. And they have to do something,” Trump continued.
Abiy Ahmed did not address Mr. Trump’s comments directly, but there were little doubt what prompted his remarks.
In a statement, the Ethiopian PM vowed that “Ethiopia will not cave in to aggression of any kind.”
“Ethiopians have never kneeled to obey their enemies, but to respect their friends. We won’t do it today and in the future,” Abiy added. He said threats of any kind over the issue were “misguided, unproductive and clear violations of international law.”
In a separate statement, Ethiopia’s foreign minister said “The incitement of war between Ethiopia and Egypt from a sitting US President neither reflects the longstanding partnership and strategic alliance between Ethiopia and the United States nor is acceptable in international law governing interstate relations.”
The Trump administration announced last September that it would cut some aid to Ethiopia after it began filling the reservoir behind the dam in July.
In a separate statement, the foreign ministry said: “The incitement of war between Ethiopia and Egypt from a sitting US president neither reflects the longstanding partnership and strategic alliance between Ethiopia and the United States nor is acceptable in international law governing interstate relations.
The foreign minister summoned the US ambassador to Ethiopia to clarify President Trump’s comments.
Egypt relies on the dam for water supply and is concerned that supplies could be cut off as Ethiopia’s takes control of the flow of Africa’s largest water.
The $4 billion structure on the Blue Nile in Western Ethiopia will be Africa’s largest hydro-electric project once completed.