Baghdad (AFP) Aug 11, 2009
Iraq's water minister accused Turkey on Tuesday of breaking a promise to increase water flows down the Euphrates river, saying Ankara was actually holding back on the precious commodity.
He was responding to remarks by Turkey's visiting foreign minister that his country had fulfilled its promises and was considering a further hike.
"Despite promises made by Turkish officials to provide more water to Iraq, this never happened. In fact, the flow is half the minimum that normally arrives in our country," Latif Rashid said in a statement.
"There is a risk that the very low level of water will provoke environmental damage in the Euphrates if Turkey does not increase the flow of water."
At the end of June, Turkey increased the Euphrates flow to 570 cubic metres per second to help overcome a shortage along the river from its source in Turkey down through Syria and Iraq.
Iraq has said Ankara promised to raise that to 715 cubic metres per second in July, August and September.
Instead, Iraq claims the amount was cut back to around only 250 cubic metres (8,800 cubic feet) per second, around a quarter of the minimum requirement for irrigation.
Earlier on Tuesday, after meeting his Iraqi counterpart Hoshyar Zebari in Baghdad, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Ankara had fulfilled a pledge to allow in just 500 cubic meters per second and was considering an unspecified "increase."
Davutoglu said Turkey was in favour of resuming talks with Iraq and Syria on water allocation in the Euphrates and would offer Iraq technical assistance to better manage its water.
"We want to resume meeting and we are ready to provide Iraq with the technology to use their water well. We gave out proposal to Iraq and we are waiting for their answer," Davutoglu said.
"What Iraq is suffering in its lack of water is the same suffering Turkey is going through. Turkish farmers have the same problems as Iraqi farmers.
But Iraq's Rashid said it was clear Turkey was withholding water.
"The information we have shows this year was better than last year in terms of rain and snow in the Turkish part of the Euphrates valley and the reservoirs are full," he said.
In July, Iraq called for a resumption of the tripartite talks after water in the Euphrates dropped by more than a half in less than a month.
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