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Iran reiterates claim on shared water resources with Afghanistan

April 17, 2023 at 4:36 pm

Iranian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian and Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sergey Lavrov (not seen) give a joint news conference following talks in Moscow, Russia on March 29, 2023 [Sefa Karacan – Anadolu Agency]

Iran has reiterated its claim over disputed shared water resources with neighbouring Afghanistan, Anadolu News Agency reports.

Foreign Minister, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, said on Monday that he discussed the dispute with his Afghan counterpart, Amir Khan Muttaqi, in Uzbekistan.

The top diplomat tweeted that he “emphasised in detail” the issue of Iran’s claim on the Helmand River.

The Afghan side, he added, “also emphasised its commitment to Iran’s water rights” and both sides “agreed to take immediate action” in this regard.

The two chief diplomats met on the sidelines of a conference in the Uzbek city of Samarkand on Thursday to review the situation in Afghanistan and cooperation with the de facto Taliban administration in the capital, Kabul.

The two neighbours have been entangled in a long-standing dispute over shared water resources, with Tehran accusing Kabul of restricting the flow of water from the Hirmand River by constructing dams over it.

Originating in the Hindu Kush Mountains near Kabul, the river covers a distance of 1,127 kilometres (700 miles) south before streaming into the Hamoun wetlands in Iran’s Sistan and Baluchestan province.

According to a 1973 water-sharing accord, Afghanistan was required to allow an average of 820 million cubic meters of water per annum to Iran.

Last July, Amir-Abdollahian warned his Afghan counterpart that the unresolved water dispute could affect cooperation between the two countries, describing it as an “important index” of the Taliban government’s commitments.

It came after President Ebrahim Raisi asked the Foreign Ministry and Energy Ministry to “seriously pursue” what he called Iran’s “water rights” from Afghanistan.

Iran shared close relations with the Taliban before it swept to power in Afghanistan in August 2021. Since then, relations have been marred by frequent border skirmishes, as well as the lingering water dispute.

READ: Afghanistan: Taliban reaches agreement with Iran over Helmand River rights