Turkish ambassador: Iraq PM was told of dam plans in advance

Fatih Yildiz, Turkish Ambassador to Iraq.

Baghdad ( Turkey’s ambassador to Iraq said Tuesday that Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi was told by Turkish officials of plans to reserve water at a dam Ankara has operated which stirred water security fears in Iraq.

In a news conference in Baghdad, ambassador Fatih Yildiz said “We had informed Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi during his visit to Turkey in 2017 that we had completed the construction of the  (Ilisu) dam and were preparing to fill it,” adding that “we listened to fears voiced relating to the filling of the dam from the Iraqi side, and did postpone it, which cost us a lot”.

The ambassador said dialogue between both sides will continue in relation to the project, adding that the agreement between both countries provides for releasing enough water quantities.

Yildiz dismissed media reports that the dam could cut water supply to Iraq, adding that it serves power generation rather than irrigation.

Iraq has detected a drop in water levels at the Tigris River in Baghdad and Mosul, which aroused fears of drought resulting from the Turkish project.

Iraqi water resources minister said in statements two days ago that Turkey violated understandings with Iraq by starting to fill the dam last March.

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