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Iran’s energy minister in Kabul after Taliban releases water from Helmand

Iran’s Energy Minister Ali Akbar Mehrabian has traveled to Afghanistan days after Taliban authorities finally ordered the release of water from the country’s Helmand River into Iran based on a long-stalled water treaty between the two neighbors.

Mehrabian held talks with senior Taliban authorities in Kabul on Wednesday, according to a report by Iran’s semi-official Tasnim news agency.

The trip comes two days after Iranian president’s special envoy for Afghanistan, Hassan Kazemi Qomi, announced that large volumes of water released from the Kamal Khan Dam in Afghanistan had flowed into Iran.

Kazimi Qomi posted a video on his Twitter page on Sunday that showed water from Helmand had finally reached the arid Sistan region in southeastern Iran based on the terms of a 1973 water treaty between Iran and Afghanistan.

Iran has been pressing Afghanistan on water rights issues since the Taliban took over in the country last summer.

That comes as Taliban has yet to be recognized by any government in the world although several countries have maintained ties with the group a bid to help Afghanistan recover from years of occupation by Western military forces.

Mehrabian’s trip to Kabul is the first by an Iranian Cabinet minister since Taliban rose to power in August 2021. 

The report by Tasnim said that Mehrabian discussed water rights issues with Taliban’s minister of energy and water Mulla Abdul Latif Mansur in a meeting held in Kabul on Wednesday. It added that the two sides also discussed bilateral energy cooperation, including the exports of electricity from Iran to Afghanistan.

Mehrabian also met Taliban’s acting minister of foreign affairs Amir Khan Muttaqi, the report added.

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