Afghan, Iranian officials meet to discuss Hirmand river water rights
The Hirmand River rises from the Hindu Kush Mountains and flows down to the Hamous wetlands located in Iran's Sistan and Baluchestan Province.
Following a joint meeting of Afghanistan's Ministry of Defense with a delegation from Tehran, the Taliban issued a statement on Saturday saying that its government is willing to take necessary measures to resolve a dispute with Iran over the water rights from the Hirmand River.
The meeting was attended on Saturday in Kabul by a delegation from Taliban's Ministry of Defense led by the Deputy chief of staff of the Armed Forces, Haji Mali Khan Sadiq, and a delegation from Tehran led by the Deputy General chief of staff of the armed forces of Iran, Bahram Hussiani Mutlaq.
According to the statement, Mali Khan Sadiq welcomed his Iranian counterpart and noted that "the Islamic Emarate has always wanted good relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran and its is committed to further cooperation in various fields," noting that the Afghan government is always seeking opportunities to foster good relations with Iran.
The meeting was highlighted by several matters of mutual concern, including matters relating to water rights at the borders - in particular the water rights at the Hirmand River which rises from the Hindu Kush Mountains and flows down to the Hamous wetlands located in Iran's Sistan and Baluchestan Province.
The meeting of Ministry of National Defense & the Islamic Republic of Iran Delegations aimed to strengthening joint border cooperation— د ملي دفاع وزارت - وزارت دفاع ملی (@MoDAfghanistan2) May 20, 2023
A delegation from Ministry of Defense of the Islamic Emarate leads by Haji Mali khan Sadiq, Deputy chief of staff of the Armed Forces met
In 1973, the two countries signed a treaty to regulate each party's use of the river.
As per the treatment, Iran is to receive an annual share of 820 million cubic meters from Hirmand. Afghanistan's violation of this clause has exposed the lives of several Iranians to the risk of drought as civilians rely heavily on the river for drinking water, agriculture, and fishing.
The construction of many hydroelectric projects on the river, including the important Kamal Khan Dam in Afghanistan's Nimrouz province, and the Kajaki Dam 100 miles (160 km) northwest of Kandahar province, has caused a major rift between them.
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Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi warned on Thursday that the violation of Iran's water rights could lead to tensions between the two parties, urging Afghanistan to abide by the treaty and "swiftly" supply the country with the share of water.
Iran’s Parliament Speaker Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf on Sunday called for the "full and precise" implementation of the 1973 treaty, noting there will be "no compromise" on Iran’s share of water.
"The inviolable water treaty is part of the long neighborhood history of the two countries and nations of Iran and Afghanistan. The deal’s full and precise implementation benefits both nations and guarantees mutual interests... This is a vital issue and there will be no compromise on it," he told an open parliamentary session while urging Afghan authorities "to deliver a constructive response to Iran’s positive will in this regard and prevent a serious problem in bilateral ties given sufficient water reserves on Afghan soil."
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