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Turkey, Syria, Iraq discuss water resource of Euphrates, Tigris rivers
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22:00, September 03, 2009

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Environment, water and irrigation ministers from Turkey, Iraq and Syria met in Ankara on Thursday to discuss the use of water resource of Euphrates and Tigris rivers, the semi-official Anatolia news agency reported.

Turkish Environment Minister Veysel Eroglu, Iraqi Water Resources Minister Latef Jamal Rasheed and Syrian Irrigation Minister Nader al-Bounni attended the meeting.

Eroglu said at the opening of the meeting that at the risk of generating less energy, Turkey released water from Ataturk Dam on Euphrates in order to help its neighbors Iraq and Syria to tackle water problems.

Eroglu said Turkey, Iraq and Syria are suffering from negative effects of the global warming, and had dry years since 2006. Turkey sacrificed generating more energy to relieve Iraq and Syria from shortage of water.

Precipitation fell by 46 percent in Tigris and Euphrates basins in southeastern Turkey over the past three years, said Eroglu, adding that water level at Ataturk Dam "dropped to 10 percent."

For his part, Rasheed said his country had been suffering from severe drought over the past few years, adding Iraq's water storage capacity was also falling year by year.

Rasheed said Iraq faced mass migration especially from southern parts of the country due to drought as water flow from Tigris and Euphrates rivers was going down.

Meanwhile, al-Bounni said his country understood Iraqi demand for more water.

"Syria and Iraq are badly in need of water but Iraq feels the need much more," said al-Bounni.

Iraq "knows very well that our dams are empty and we have human needs," he noted.

Iraq, Turkey and Syria have long-term disputes over water resources. Iraq has accused Turkey and Syria of choking the Tigris and Euphrates rivers by constructing dams that have restricted water flow.

Last year, Turkey, Syria and Iraq decided to bury the hatchet over water issues and cooperate by establishing an institute to work towards the solution of water-related problems among the three.

However, Iraq's parliament voted this May to compel the government to demand on a greater share of water resources from neighbors upstream of its vital rivers, namely Turkey, Iran and Syria, in any bilateral deals with them.

Source: Xinhua

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