Iraq working to hold talks with Iran on water issue, says spokesman

File – The dried-up shore of an irrigation canal near Nasiriyah city, Iraq. (AFP photo)

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — The Iraqi government is working to hold talks with Iran over the issue of water, which the latter continues to restrict flows into Iraq, a spokesman for Iraq’s water resources ministry said.

Ali Thamer said a visit by Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi accompanied by the minister of water resources to Iran had helped hold technical meetings in the future, according to state news agency INA.

The Iraqi and Iranian officials agreed to continue “technical meetings” to solve the issue between both countries, Thamer told INA.

“There is a move to secure these technical meetings and to put forward everything that would coordinate joint efforts,” he said.

The Iraqi negotiators “are trying to solve the water issue with both Iran and Turkey so as to secure Iraq’s water rights”, he was quoted as saying.

The ministry of water resources also welcomes any steps that lead to joint coordination to solve the issue, he said.

Iraq is facing water shortages due to low rainfalls and restriction of water flows from Iran and Turkey.

The two neighboring countries are holding back water to fill reservoirs, a step that has alarmed Iraq and caused shortages in the country.

In Sept. 21, Iraqi minister of water resources Mahdi al-Hamdani said there were “indications” that Iran was digging tunnels and trying to change water routes.

He further said the Iraqi ministry of foreign affairs was working to internationalize the issue water with Iran.

In July, Hamdani warned Iran that it would resort to international community to secure its water rights if Tehran did not release more water down rivers in Diyala province.

Iraq is mostly desert. Its inhabitable areas are fed by the Tigris from Turkey, the Euphrates from Turkey and Syria, and a network of rivers from Iran.

In May, spokesman of the Iraqi water resources ministry Ali Radi said levels of water in the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers had dropped by 50% compared to last year.

In 2011, former Iraqi minister of agriculture Izzedine al-Dawla said millions of Iraqis might have no access to clean water in 15 to 20 years.

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