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Iran says Afghanistan will stop diverting water from Helmand

Iran’s energy minister says Taliban authorities have vowed to stop diverting water from Helmand River.

Iranian energy minister says Afghanistan has agreed to stop diverting water from the Helmand River as part of a recent understanding between the two countries that will enable Iran to receive its legal share of water from the river.  

Ali Akbar Mehrabian said on Wednesday that the ruling Taliban group in Afghanistan had agreed to dismantle a structure used to divert water from Helmand to Godzareh, a barren area located south of the country.

Mehrabian said the understanding had come during his trip last week to Kabul, where he held talks with senior Taliban ministers to settle issues related to energy cooperation between Iran and Afghanistan.

“Under the recent agreement with Afghanistan’s ruling group (they) promised that even a single drop of water would not reach Godzareh,” he was quoted as saying by the ILNA news agency.

Iran is entitled to 820 million cubic meters per year of water from Helmand under a 1973 treaty signed with its eastern neighbor.

However, Iran has been deprived of its water rights in recent years mainly because a US-backed administration that ruled Afghanistan until last August continued to divert water to Godzareh, a move initiated by a previous Taliban government in 1998.

Mehrabian said after his trip to Kabul that cancelling the “hegemonic” project of water diversion to Godzareh will benefit farmers in both Iran and Afghanistan.

He said that the two countries had also agreed to expand their energy cooperation, including in the fields of water treatment and electricity.  

Iran, like other countries in the world, has yet to recognize the new government in Afghanistan. However, Tehran says it will continue to offer economic support to its neighbor to help it recover from years of US-led occupation.

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