May 04, 2021
Feltman was named as special envoy for the Horn of Africa last month, amid Washington’s efforts to step up diplomatic efforts in the region
FILE – Then-U.N. Undersecretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman attends a press conference in Bogotá, Colombia on Nov. 15, 2017. RAUL ARBOLEDA/AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES
By Amr Kandil | Ahram Online
US Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa Jeffrey Feltman will start on Tuesday an official tour that includes Egypt, Ethiopia, Sudan, and Eritrea, the US Department of State said, amid growing tensions in the region.
During the tour, Feltman will hold meetings with officials from the four countries as well as from the United Nations and the African Union, the state department said.
He will also meet with a number of political stakeholders and humanitarian groups.
Feltman’s tour comes as part of the US administration’s “commitment to lead a sustained diplomatic effort to address the interlinked political, security, and humanitarian crises in the Horn of Africa,” the state department said.
The department added that Feltman will coordinate US policy with the officials across the region to achieve that goal.
Feltman was named a special envoy for the Horn of Africa last month, amid Washington’s efforts to step up diplomatic efforts in the region.
Feltman’s tour comes while tensions have escalated on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) between the two downstream countries of Egypt and Sudan and Ethiopia.
Ethiopia has reiterated its plans to execute the second phase of the massive dam filling in July in spite of Egyptian and Sudanese objections due to the absence of a legally binding agreement on the filling and operation of the dam.
Egypt and Sudan say they are not against development in Ethiopia and that they do not object to the dam filling but have also highlighted the need to reach a binding deal before the next rainy season.
Rounds of African-Union-sponsored talks to reach a consensus have all reached deadlocks.
Egypt and Sudan sent letters last month to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to seek the international community’s involvement to dissuade Ethiopia from taking unilateral actions on GERD. Ethiopia rejects international mediation in the issue and says it sticks to the AU talks.
Ethiopia also took a hard line on the downstream countries, voicing rejection of the “colonial agreements” of Nile water shares, declaring it is “unacceptable” for Sudan and Egypt to use these historical agreements as reference points while negotiating the GERD crisis.
Feltman’s tour also comes as tensions rose between Sudan and Ethiopia over the ownership of the fertile Al-Fashqa region that lies within the Sudanese borders and is inhabited by Ethiopian and Sudanese farmers.
Also, the war in the Ethiopian northern Tigray region fought between Ethiopian National Defence Forces and the region’s ruling Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) has entered its sixth month, causing millions of people to face starvation.
The Ethiopian forces are aided by Ethiopian militias and the Eritrean Defence Forces.