Abadi starts Turkey visit to discuss water scarcity, border protection

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi addresses the media in Ankara December 25, 2014. REUTERS/Umit Bektas (TURKEY – Tags: POLITICS) – RTR4J8X5

Baghdad ( – Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi arrived on Tuesday afternoon in the Turkish capital Ankara on an official visit, during which he will discuss with Turkish officials means of boosting relations between Baghdad and Ankara.

The issues of water scarcity and border protection will top Abadi’s talks with Turkish officials, a former MP told Iraqi website Almaalomah.

Jasem Mohamed Jaafar said the talks will probe the possibility of increasing Iraq’s oil exports to Turkey in light of the Iranian threat to close the Strait of Hormuz in a bid to face the imminent reinstatement of U.S. oil sanctions, a move which would shut down the region’s oil trade.

In February, Iraq urged neighboring countries to release its share of water from Euphrates and Tigris rivers, warning that it may be facing a “water scarcity” crisis.

Government-owned Al-Sabaah quoted Hamid al-Nayef, spokesperson of the agriculture ministry, saying that Iraq made official requests to Turkey and Syria to release its share of Euphrates and Tigris rivers, which had witnessed a great decline.

He added that the requests were made after “those countries failed to commit to agreements and mechanisms determining each country’s share for many reasons, including the construction of dams”.

According to Nayef, the drop in rainfall rates contributed to the decline of water levels at the rivers. He said the government has only managed to provide water to 75 percent of lands allocated for cultivation.

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