Iranian delegation to visit Kabul over water rights dispute

An Iranian delegation led by Ali Salajeqeh, the head of Iran’s Department of Environment, is set to travel to Afghanistan in the upcoming weeks to hold talks with the Taliban on the issue of Tehran’s water rights from the Helmand River.  

In an interview with Iranian-based ISNA News Agency, Salajeqeh said that he will visit Afghanistan in “the next one or two weeks, I will go to Afghanistan with a delegation to follow up on the issue of [Iran’s] water rights.”

He said Iran is negotiating with the Taliban on water issues.

Iran has been engaged in a prolonged dispute over water sharing with Afghanistan, accusing Kabul of failing to comply with the agreement signed with the then government of Afghanistan in 1973 to provide Iran with a specific amount of water annually.

According to reports, based on the agreement Afghanistan is obligated to supply 820 million cubic meters of water annually through the Helmand River to Iranian territory. Former Afghan authorities, however, had stated that Helmand’s water has been reduced due to droughts in Afghanistan and that amount of water cannot flow into Iran.

Iranian officials, meanwhile, stated that the Kamal Khan Dam in Nimruz province and the Kajak Dam in Kandahar, both built on the Helmand River, have worsened the situation.

In mid-April, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian met with Taliban’s acting foreign minister Amir Khan Muttaqi on the sidelines of the Samarkand Meeting on Afghanistan and said that Tehran will not compromise on its water rights and will pursue the matter seriously.

“During my recent negotiations with Mr. Muttaqi in the city of Samarkand, we put a strong emphasis on the issue of Iran’s water rights to the Hirmand River,” Amir-Abdollahian said in a tweet after he met with Muttaqi.

“We will not compromise on Iran’s water rights,” he said.