US Declares Emergency, New Entry Restrictions Due to Virus

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The Latest:United States Secretary of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar is accompanied by health officials as they speak to reporters during a news briefing at the White House in Washington, Jan. 31, 2020.Beginning Sunday, the U.S. will also begin funneling all flights to the U.S. from China to seven major airports where passengers can be screened for illness.The virus has infected almost 10,000 people globally in just two months, a troublesome sign that prompted the World Health Organization to declare the outbreak a global emergency. The death toll stood at 213, including 43 new fatalities, all in China.Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, also said the risk to the American public currently is low. He added: “I want to emphasize that this is a significant global situation and it continues to involve.”There are six cases of this virus in the U.S. and 191 individuals are being monitored, Redfield said.Director of National Institutes of Health Infectious Disease Anthony Fauci speaks to reporters at the White House in Washington, Jan. 31, 2020.Dr. Anthony Fauci, infectious diseases chief at the National Institutes of Health, said one reason the U.S. stepped up its quarantine measures was an alarming report from Germany that a traveler from China had spread the virus despite showing no symptoms. Fauci contrasted it with the response to recent outbreaks of Ebola, which can’t be spread unless someone is very ill.At the same time, federal health authorities were recognizing that the test they’re using to detect the virus isn’t always dependable. Redfield said when it was used on some of the people currently in isolation, they’d test positive one day and negative another.Of the six U.S. patients so far, airport screening detected only one. “Astute doctors” caught four others, after the people sought care and revealed that they’d traveled to China, Redfield said. And the CDC diagnosed the most recent case, the spouse of one of those earlier cases, who was being closely monitored.Lawrence Gostin, a Georgetown University expert on public health law, said putting a large number of people under quarantine “is virtually unprecedented in modern American history.””But I think it’s justified,” he said, noting the evacuees had been in a hot zone for the virus for a long time.Travel advisory, suspended flightsThe announcement came hours after the State Department issued a level 4 “Do Not Travel” advisory, the highest grade of warning, and told Americans in China to consider departing using commercial means. “Travelers should be prepared for travel restrictions to be put into effect with little or no advance notice,” the advisory said.Hours later, Delta Air Lines and American Airlines announced they were suspending all flights between the U.S. and China, joining several international carriers that have stopped flying to China as the virus outbreak continues to spread.Meanwhile, U.S. health officials issued a two-week quarantine order for the 195 Americans evacuated earlier this week from the Chinese city of Wuhan, provincial capital of Hubei province. It was the first time a federal quarantine has been ordered since the 1960s, when one was enacted over concern about the potential spread of smallpox, the CDC said.”We understand this action may seem drastic. We would rather be remembered for over-reacting than under-reacting,” the CDC’s Dr. Nancy Messonnier said. None of the Americans being housed at a Southern California military base has shown signs of illness.China counted 9,692 confirmed cases Friday, the vast majority in Hubei province.A clerk wearing a face mask and a plastic bag stands in a pharmacy in Wuhan in central China’s Hubei Province, Jan. 31, 2020.The National Health Commission reported 171 cases of people who have been “cured and discharged from hospital.” WHO has said most people who got the illness had milder cases, though 20% experienced severe symptoms. Symptoms include fever and cough, and in severe cases, shortness of breath and pneumonia.China has placed more than 50 million people in the region under virtual quarantine, while foreign countries, companies and airlines have cut back severely on travel to China and quarantined those who recently passed through Wuhan. Infected people don’t show symptoms immediately and may be able to pass on the virus before they appear sick.American Airlines said it was halting all flights starting Friday and running through March 27. Delta plans to wait until Feb. 6 to suspend China operations to help travelers in China leave the country. It said the stoppage will continue through April 30.United Airlines announced that it will suspend flights to Beijing, Shanghai and Chengdu but continue flights to Hong Kong.The U.S. screening airports are John F. Kennedy International in New York, San Francisco International in California, Seattle-Tacoma International in Washington, O’Hare International in Chicago, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International in Georgia, and Daniel K. Inouye International in Hawaii.Since China informed WHO about the new virus in late December, at least 23 countries have reported cases, as scientists race to understand how exactly the virus is spreading and how severe it is.Human-to-human transmissionExperts say there is significant evidence the virus is spreading among people in China, and WHO noted with its emergency declaration Thursday it was especially concerned that some cases abroad also involved human-to-human transmission. It defines an international emergency as an “extraordinary event” that poses a risk to other countries and requires a coordinated international response.FILE – Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus speaks during a news conference in Geneva, Switzerland, Jan. 30, 2020.”The main reason for this declaration is not because of what is happening in China but because of what is happening in other countries,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters in Geneva. “Our greatest concern is the potential for this virus to spread to countries with weaker health systems which are ill-prepared to deal with it.”A declaration of a global emergency typically brings greater money and resources, but may also prompt nervous governments to restrict travel and trade to affected countries. The announcement also imposes more disease reporting requirements on countries.On Friday, the U.S. Embassy in Beijing said it was authorizing the departure of family members and all non-emergency U.S. government employees from Beijing and the consulates in the cities of Chengdu, Guangzhou, Shanghai, and Shenyang. Staff from the Wuhan consulate departed earlier this week.The decision was made “out of an abundance of caution related to logistical disruptions stemming from restricted transportation and availability of appropriate health care,” the embassy said.Mike Wester, a businessman in Beijing who has lived in China for 19 years, said he has no plans to leave.”I feel safer self-quarantining myself here at home than I do risking travel,” Wester said.A security personnel checks temperatures of visitors entering the Yuyuantan Park, as the country is hit by an outbreak of the new coronavirus, in Beijing, China, Jan. 31, 2020.He pointed to potential risks from crowds at airports and being required to remove a mask for passport and security checks.Japan and Germany also advised against non-essential travel and Britain did as well, except for Hong Kong and Macao. Popular holiday and shopping destination Singapore barred Chinese from traveling there, becoming the first Southeast Asian nation to do so.Tedros said WHO was not recommending limiting travel or trade to China.”There is no reason for measures that unnecessarily interfere with international travel and trade,” he said. He added that Chinese President Xi Jinping had committed to help stop the spread of the virus beyond its borders.Although scientists expect to see limited transmission of the virus between people with close contact, like within families, the instances of spread to people who may have had less exposure to the virus is worrying.In Japan, a tour guide and bus driver became infected after escorting two tour groups from Wuhan. In Germany, five employees of a German auto parts supplier became ill after a Chinese colleague visited, including two who had no direct contact with the woman, who showed no symptoms of the virus until her flight back to China. On Friday, Germany confirmed a sixth case, a child of one of the people already infected.”That’s the kind of transmission chain that we don’t want to see,” said Marion Koopmans, an infectious diseases specialist at Erasmus University Medical Center in the Netherlands and a member of WHO’s emergency committee.The new virus has now infected more people globally than were sickened during the 2002-2003 outbreak of SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome, a cousin of the new virus. Both are from the coronavirus family, which also includes those that can cause the common cold.
 

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Trump Curbs Immigration for 6 Nations

The Trump administration announced Friday that it was curbing legal immigration from six additional countries that officials said did not meet security standards, as part of an election-year push to further restrict immigration.Officials said immigrants from Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar, Eritrea, Nigeria, Sudan and Tanzania will face new restrictions in obtaining certain visas to come to the United States. But it is not a total travel ban, unlike President Donald Trump’s earlier effort that generated outrage around the world for unfairly targeting Muslims.Trump was expected to sign a proclamation on the restrictions as early as Friday; the restrictions would go into effect Feb. 21.The announcement comes as Trump tries to promote his administration’s crackdown on immigration, highlighting a signature issue that motivated his supporters in 2016 and hoping it has the same affect this November. The administration recently announced a crackdown on birth tourism and is noting the sharp decline in crossings at the U.S.-Mexico border and citing progress on building the border wall.Immigrant visas were restricted for Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar, Eritrea and Nigeria. That type of visa is given to people seeking to live in the U.S. permanently. They include visas for people sponsored by family members or employers as well as the diversity visa program that made up to 55,000 visas available in the most recent lottery. In December, for example, 40,666 immigrant visas were granted worldwide.Sudan and Tanzania have diversity visas suspended. The State Department uses a computer drawing to select people from around the world for up to 55,000 diversity visas. Nigeria is already excluded from the lottery along with other countries that had more than 50,000 natives immigrate to the U.S. in the previous five years.Non-immigrant visas were not affected. Those are given to people traveling to the U.S. for a temporary stay. They include visas for tourists, those doing business or people seeking medical treatment. During December, for example, about 650,760 non-immigrant visas were granted worldwide.Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said Homeland Security officials would work with the countries on bolstering their security requirements to help them work to get off the list.”These countries for the most part want to be helpful, they want to do the right thing, they have relationships with the U.S., but for a variety of different reasons failed to meet those minimum requirements,” Wolf said.Rumors swirled for weeks about a potential new ban, and initially Belarus  was considered. But Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was headed to the Eastern European nation as the restrictions were released and Belarus was not on the list. Wolf said some nations were able to comply with the new standards in time.The current restrictions follow Trump’s travel ban, which the Supreme Court upheld as lawful in 2018. They are significantly softer than Trump’s initial ban, which had suspended travel from Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen for 90 days, blocked refugee admissions for 120 days, and suspended travel from Syria. The government suspended most immigrant and non-immigrant visas to applicants from those countries. Exceptions are available for students and those with “significant contacts” in the U.S.Trump has said a travel ban is necessary to protect Americans. But opponents have argued that he seeks to target Muslim countries, pointing to comments he made as a candidate in 2015 calling for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.”The seven countries with considerably more restrictions include nations with little or no diplomatic relationship to the U.S. They include five majority-Muslim nations: Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen.Sudan and Kyrgyzstan are majority-Muslim countries. Nigeria is about evenly split between Christians and Muslims but has the world’s fifth-largest population of Muslims, according to the Pew Research Center.Wolf said immigrant visas were chosen because people with those visa are the most difficult to remove after arriving in the United States.The initial ban was immediately blocked by the courts and led to a months-long process to develop clear standards and federal review processes to try to withstand legal muster.The announcement of new countries banned was expected around the third anniversary of the Jan. 27, 2017, enactment of the first order.Wolf said officials spent about six months working on revised criteria. They examined countries for compliance with minimum standards for identification and information-sharing, and assessed whether countries properly tracked terrorism or public safety risks. Officials looked at whether countries used modern passports, shared information that the U.S. could validate on travelers and identified possible criminal suspects in a way that the U.S. could see before entry. They evaluated responses and ranked nations on where they fell.Government agencies then discussed whether countries had different, but important, contacts with the U.S. and then decided on restrictions.”Really the only way to mitigate the risk is to impose these travel restrictions,” Wolf said.

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Botswana Registers First Suspected Case of Coronavirus 

Botswana has registered its first suspected case of the deadly coronavirus. A person arriving from China aboard Ethiopian Airways showed symptoms consistent with the virus.  Botswana’s Ministry of Health said a man was detained at a local clinic soon after his flight from China landed at Gaborone’s Sir Seretse Khama Airport on Thursday. The ministry said the unnamed male displayed symptoms consistent with the coronavirus but did not say what those symptoms were. The country’s director of health services, Malaki Tshipayagae, said the patient has been isolated at a clinic in the capital as an investigation continues. Meanwhile, the government has urged Botswana nationals to take precautions in order to avoid contracting the virus. NervousnessMpho Marumo, a Gaborone resident, said there is panic after the first suspected case. “We are doing all we can to take the necessary precautions,” Marumo said. “Our fear is that the virus might have spread already, as many people arrive from China, some undetected.” The suspected case came as some Botswana nationals were holed up in the Chinese city of Wuhan, the epicenter of the virus outbreak. Botswana has an estimated 500 nationals studying or working in China. A student who spoke on condition of anonymity said it had been a very difficult few days. “I was supposed to leave to Botswana but my ticket was canceled,” the student said. “Following that, we are not allowed to go anywhere.” The World Health Organization (WHO) declared a global health emergency as the death toll from the virus rose above 200 this week. 

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France’s Ethnic Chinese Community, Other Asians Complain of Coronavirus-Linked Discrimination

France announced its sixth case of the new coronavirus this week and repatriated a planeload of its citizens from the virus-stricken Chinese city of Wuhan. But back at home, Chinese and others in the wider East Asian community there say they are becoming targets for discrimination.Just as fast as the coronavirus is spreading, so too seems to be prejudice. In Japan, South Korea and Italy — and now France. This week the French hashtag #JeNeSuisPasUnVirus — I Am Not A Virus — was trending on Twitter.  One Chinese man interviewed on France’s BFMTV — his face hidden so he wouldn’t be recognized — described walking out of a Paris gym and being accosted by teenagers, who laughed and said, “There’s coronavirus coming.”  Ethnic Chinese aren’t the only ones being targeted. One account on social media describes a Vietnamese woman being shunned by those around her. Other East Asians say fellow passengers on public transport move away from them, or put scarves in front of their faces.French passengers on buses leave a military air base in Istres, southern France, Jan.31, 2020, after arriving by plane from the virus-hit Chinese city of Wuhan.In a television interview, Laetitia Chhiv, head of the Association of Young Chinese in France, said coronavirus was giving expression to latent racism.  It hasn’t helped that a French newspaper, Le Courrier Picard, published the headline “Yellow Alert” on its cover last Sunday, and titled an editorial “A New Yellow Peril.” The newspaper quickly apologized, saying the move was unintentional, but the damage was done.  Interviewed by a colleague, journalist Linh-Lan Dao said she couldn’t believe the Courrier Picard’s title. “We’re in the 21st century,” she said.  All this comes after France reported a surge in racist and xenophobic acts in 2019 — up 130 percent from the previous year. While much of the focus has been on Jews and Muslims, ethnic Chinese have also been targeted in recent years. The government’s line is zero tolerance to discrimination.In 2016, thousands of Chinese staged protests after a Chinese man was killed outside Paris by three men trying to rob his companion’s bag. It wasn’t the first attack — and Chinese anti-violence activist Tamara Lui says it hasn’t been the last.  Lui says the same prejudice behind these past attacks on the Chinese community — because they’re stigmatized as rich and hardworking and therefore good targets to rob — is being seen with coronavirus today.
 

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Delta, American Become First US Airlines to Cancel US-China Flights

Delta and American Airlines announced Friday they will suspend flights to China after the World Health Organization (WHO) labeled the coronavirus pandemic as a global public-health emergency.  American Airlines (AAL) said in a statement that it is suspending flights to and from mainland China until March 27. However, it will continue flights to and from Hong Kong. This decision comes after a lawsuit by the union representing airline’s pilots sued the company to immediately stop its US-China service due to possible health threats posed by the coronavirus.  Delta Air Lines was the first to announce its suspension of flights, which will begin Feb. 6 and are scheduled to continue through April 30. The last flight will leave the U.S. on Feb. 3, and the last flight to return to the U.S. will be Feb 5.Shortly after saying it will only reduce service to mainland China, United Airlines also announced Friday it will suspend flights from Feb. 6 through March 28. The airline said in a statement it will ”operate select flights to help ensure our U.S.-based employees, as well as customers, have options to return home.” It said, though, it will continue to service one flight from San Francisco to Hong Kong.For all three airlines, these suspensions follow travel advisories issued by the State Department and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The State Department issued a Level 4-Do Not Travel advisory on Thursday and recommended that all Americans leave mainland China. The CDC issued a Level 3 notice advising Americans to avoid nonessential travel to China.Several international airlines also have also planned to suspend or reduce service to and from mainland China. British Airways, Air Asia, Cathay Pacific, Air India, IndiGo, Lufthansa and Finnair have announced plans to reduce or suspend flights this week. RwandAir and Kenya Airways canceled all flights to and from Guangzhou until further notice. LOT Polish Airlines has suspended flights to China until Feb. 9, according to a deputy prime minister. Iran also suspended all flights to and from China.

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Climate Activists From African Nations Make Urgent Appeal

Ugandan climate activist Vanessa Nakate and peers from other African nations on Friday made an urgent appeal for the world to pay more attention to the continent that stands to suffer the most from global warming despite contributing to it the least.The Fridays For Future movement and activist Greta Thunberg held a news conference with the activists to spotlight the marginalization of African voices a week after The Associated Press cropped Nakate out of a photo at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.Nakate, Makenna Muigai of Kenya, Ayakha Melithafa of South Africa and climate scientist Ndoni Mcunu of South Africa pointed out the various challenges both in combating climate change on the booming continent of some 1.2 billion people and in inspiring the world’s response.“African activists are doing so much,” Nakate said. “It gets so frustrating when no one really cares about them.”The AP has apologized and acknowledged mistakes in sending out the cropped photo on Jan. 24 and in how the news organization initially reacted. The AP has said that it will expand diversity training worldwide as a result.Nakate said Friday she was very sad the photo incident occurred but added that “I’m actually very optimistic about this” as it has drawn global attention to climate activists in Africa and the various crises there.Muigai pointed to a recent locust outbreak that parts of East Africa have seen in 70 years, which threatens food security for millions of people in countries including Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia and is moving toward South Sudan and Uganda.Challenges include everything from deforestation to bad energy policies, Muigai said. They also include changes in storm intensity that brought two devastating cyclones to Mozambique a year ago, Mcunu said. And they include the recent drought crisis in South Africa’s Cape Town region, Melithafa said.“The narrative we have is Africans can adapt to this. That is actually not true,” Mcunu said.The warnings have been stark for Africa. No continent will be struck more severely by climate change, the U.N. Environment Program has said.Africa has 15% of the world’s population, yet is likely to “shoulder nearly 50% of the estimated global climate change adaptation costs,” the African Development Bank has said, noting that seven of the 10 countries considered most vulnerable to climate change are in Africa: Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Chad, Central African Republic, South Sudan, Ethiopia and Eritrea.And yet “to date, energy-related CO₂ emissions in Africa represented around 2% of cumulative global emissions,” the International Energy Agency said last year.In some cases it is difficult to persuade people to care more about climate change because there are so many other pressing everyday issues such as poverty, unemployment and gender-based violence, Melithafa said. “That’s hard for the global north to understand.”Instead people should work to hold more developed countries accountable for producing the bulk of emissions that contribute to global warming, the activists said.“Every individual is needed in the fight against the climate crisis,” Nakate said. “Because climate change is not specific about the kinds of people it affects.”For her part, Thunberg firmly returned the spotlight to the activists from African countries.“I’m not the reason why we’re here,” she said, later adding: “We are fighting for the exact same cause.” And she noted that while whatever she says gets turned into a headline, that is not the case for many others.“The African perspective is always so under-reported,” Thunberg said.Nakate urged the audience to make 2020 the year of action on climate change after young activists in 2019 put the issue squarely at the center of global discussions.It won’t be easy, she noted: “It is the uncomfortable things that will help to save our planet.”

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Italy Stops Planes To and From China Over Coronavirus

The Italian government declared a state of emergency Friday and closed all air traffic to and from China. The move came after confirmation that two Chinese tourists tested positive for the coronavirus. The couple are being treated in isolation in a Rome hospital specializing in infectious diseases. A special cabinet meeting held by the Italian government Friday declared a six-month state of emergency and allocated $5.5 million to deal with the coronavirus crisis. Further meetings were planned between the country’s health authorities and the civil defense department to decide what additional measures were needed.Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte confirmed Thursday that a Chinese couple from Wuhan that had been staying in Rome’s Palatino hotel, near the Colosseum, had been admitted to Rome’s Spallanzani Hospital after showing symptoms of coronavirus.  A man passes through the main gate of the Lazzaro Spallanzani hospital, the National Institute for Infectious Diseases, in Rome, Jan. 31, 2020.The prime minister said there is no reason to panic, adding that all measures have been adopted to try to prevent the spread of the disease.  The director of the Spallanzani National Institute of Infectious Diseases, Professor Giuseppe Ippolito, said the Chinese couple were placed in isolation and are “in reasonable condition.”  Health minister Roberto Speranza said the state of emergency status gives the government more powers to deal to deal with the infection, but does not change life for Italians.Speranza also said efforts are being made to retrace the places the Chinese couple visited since arriving in Milan on January 23. The other 18 tourists and the driver who traveled with them on a bus also are being tested and remain under observation.The Palatino Grand Hotel is seen in Rome, Jan. 31, 2020.At the hotel where the couple were staying, their room was immediately sealed off and decontamination was carried out. The hotel has had cancellations, even though the director declared there is no danger for the staff or guests.  Additionally, the Italian government is organizing a special plane to bring back some 80 Italians in Wuhan. It is likely they will be flown back Monday, then will spend two weeks in quarantine.
 

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US-Brokers Nile Dam Deal Still Deadlocked

The latest round of talks between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan in Washington has stretched into its fourth day as the parties struggle to reach a comprehensive agreement on the Grand Ethiopia Renaissance Dam (GERD), a massive hydropower dam project on Ethiopia’s Blue Nile River.
 
The White House released a statement saying President Donald Trump spoke with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on Friday, and he “expressed optimism that an agreement on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam was near and would benefit all parties involved.”
 
The tripartite meeting hosted by the U.S. Treasury is the parties’ last-ditch attempt to resolve the question of the operation of the dam, particularly the filling of its reservoir, an issue that has triggered concerns of a “water war” between Egypt and Ethiopia.
 
The meeting was scheduled for January 28-29 but has continued until January 31 without an agreement on the numbers for filling of the reservoir.
 
Ethiopia and Egypt have been negotiating for years, but several technical sticking points remain, including the duration and rate at which Ethiopia will draw water out of the Nile and the quantity of water that will be retained. Cairo fears Ethiopia’s plans to rapidly fill the reservoir could threaten Egypt’s source of fresh water.      
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The technical details of how, when, and where the water will flow are a life-and-death matter for each party,” said Bronwyn Bruton, deputy director of the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center. Bruton added that the situation is complicated by “international organizations and mediating third party countries, which all come with their own interests and agendas.”
 
With the Trump administration’s urging, last November the parties agreed to hold four technical governmental meetings at the level of water ministers with the World Bank and the United States attending as observers. They agreed to a deadline of January 15, 2020, for reaching an accord. When they failed to reach an agreement, the parties agreed to another round of talks this week.
 
The main issue has been a lack of consensus, said Mirette Mabrouk, director of the Egypt Program at the Middle East Institute. “Ethiopia’s priority has been to complete the dam and Egypt’s priority has been to ensure that its near sole source of water is not decimated,” Mabrouk said.
 A flexible treaty
 
In previous statements, the ministers have recognized that flexibility in trans-boundary water management is essential considering the constantly changing levels of the Nile.
 
They have agreed that guidelines for the filling and operation of the GERD “may be adjusted by the three countries, in accordance with the hydrological conditions in the given year.”
 
However, competing hydrological and political interests have hindered negotiations.
 
The director of the Water Institute at the University of North Carolina, Aaron Salzberg said that parties are striving for an agreement that is “easily codified in terms of numbers” –how fast you can fill, how much water is released.”   At the same time, he says, the agreement must establish a joint decision-making process that allows flexibility in responding to changing conditions, but not one that may be “too open to interpretation and set the stage for conflict down the line.”
 
This is not something that should be forced, Salzberg added.   “The parties themselves must drive the process. This is an agreement that will need to last multiple lifetimes,” he said.
 
 Sileshi Bekele, Ethiopia’s Minister for Water and Energy, speaks to the media after the end of the fourth and final round of talks between Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan on Ethiopia’s construction of a controversial dam on the Nile River.Mediation?
 
On their first Washington meeting on November 6, the foreign ministers agreed that if a deal is not reached by January 15, 2020, Article 10 of the 2015 Declaration of Principles will be invoked.
 
Article 10 of the declaration, signed in Khartoum, addresses the peaceful settlement of disputes. It states that “if the parties involved do not succeed in solving the dispute through talks or negotiations, they can ask for mediation or refer the matter to their heads of states or prime ministers.”
 
Egypt has long-sought external mediation, while Ethiopia wants to keep the negotiations on a tripartite level. But earlier this month Ethiopian Prime Minister Ahmed said he has asked South African President Cyril Ramaphosa to intervene. Ramaphosa has accepted the task.
 
Under the 1959 Nile Waters Agreement between Egypt and Sudan, signed before Egypt began constructing the Aswan High Dam, Egypt can take up to 55.5 billion cubic meters of water from the Nile each year, and Sudan can take up to 18.5 billion. Ethiopia was not part of that agreement.   
 US involvement
 
U.S. involvement in the dam issue came about after Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi last year requested that President Trump help mediate the conflict. A senior Trump administration official confirmed that the president had offered “the good offices of Mnuchin” to lead the effort and the U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has played the role of host and observer in negotiations since last November.
 
Trump appears to have sustained his interest on the negotiations and has even gone so far as inviting the ministers to impromptu meetings at the Oval Office on November 6 and January 14.Just had a meeting with top representatives from Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan to help solve their long running dispute on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, one of the largest in the world, currently being built. The meeting went well and discussions will continue during the day! pic.twitter.com/MsWuEBgZxK— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 6, 2019 
After the last meeting, the White House released a statement that Trump emphasized to the foreign and water resources ministers of Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan that the United States “wants to see all of these countries thrive and expressed hope that each country will take this opportunity to work together so that future generations may succeed and benefit from critical water resources.”
 
The U.S. Treasury has not released a statement on the latest round of negotiations and it is unclear what the next steps would be for the parties.  

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