Iraqi president presses for long-term solution to water crisis with Turkey

File photo: The Tigris river flows through the ancient town of Hasankeyf, which will be significantly submerged by the Ilisu dam being constructed, in southeastern Turkey, September 27, 2017. REUTERS/Umit Bektas TPX

Baghdad ( – Iraqi President Barham Salih has called for reaching a long-term agreement with Turkey to solve the water issue between the two countries.

The president made the remarks during a meeting with Turkish presidential envoy for water affairs Wesel R. Oglu at the As Salam palace in Baghdad, the Iraqi presidency said in a statement Wednesday.

“The water issue represents a high priority in the course of Iraq’s relations with neighboring Turkey,” the president said, expressing hope that the two countries’ committees would reach a settlement of the issue of water quotas soon.

Turkey is holding back water on the Tigris river to fill a reservoir behind its Ilisu dam, a step that has alarmed Iraq and caused shortages particularly in the southern province of Basra.

Iraq’s water shortages have led it to take measures such as bans on rice planting, and driven farmers to leave their land. Basra province has seen months of street protests over the lack of clean drinking water.

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