Ethiopia says it will not cave to 'aggression' in dam dispute


FILE PHOTO: Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed speaks during a media conference at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, October 29, 2018. Michel Euler/Pool via REUTERS

NAIROBI (Reuters) - Ethiopia said on Saturday that threats of any kind towards resolving a dispute with its neighbours over the filling and operation of a massive hydropower dam were "misguided, unproductive and clear violations of international law".

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed's office made no mention of any person or any country in a statement on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), which is at the centre of a dispute over Nile water supplies.

But his comment came hours after U.S. President Donald Trump held a phone call with the Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok in which they called for an amicable solution between Ethiopia and Egypt.

In the call, held in front of reporters at the White House, Trump said he had also told Egypt the same thing, saying it was a dangerous situation and that Cairo could end up "blowing up that dam."

Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt have been locked in a bitter dispute over the filling and operation of the GERD, which remains unresolved although the reservoir behind the dam began filling in July.

"Occasional statements of belligerent threats to have Ethiopia succumb to unfair terms still abound," Abiy's office said. "These threats and affronts to Ethiopian sovereignty are misguided, unproductive, and clear violations of international law."

The first phase of filling the dam completed in August, Abiy's office said.

Egypt says it is dependent on the Nile for more than 90% of its scarce fresh water supplies, and fears the dam could have a devastating effect on its economy.

Trump said on Friday said he had brokered an agreement to resolve the issue but that Ethiopia had broken the pact, forcing him to cut funds.

Abiy's office said there was significant progress made in resolving the dispute since the African Union took over the negotiations.

"Ethiopia will not cave in to aggressions of any kind, nor do we give recognition to a right that is based on colonial treaties," it said.

(Reporting by George Obulutsa; Editing by Giulia Paravicini and Frances Kerry)

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