Amir Abdollahian talks to Syrian, Iraqi, Kuwaiti FMs as dust storms blanket Iran

May 25, 2022 - 18:40

TEHRAN – Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian spoke over the phone with his Syrian, Iraqi and Kuwaiti counterparts to discuss ways to address environmental challenges, including the sand and dust storms (SDSs).

The phone conversations were held in line with the foreign minister’s intensive consultations with some of his regional counterparts over the problem, the Iranian Foreign Ministry reported. 

Over the last few days, huge dust storms have swept across several western and central Iranian provinces, prompting authorities to shut down public activities. 

In the phone conversations, the top Iranian diplomat underlined the urgency of controlling the problem of the haze in different countries, that has a foreign origin and has disrupted normal life and poses a threat to people’s health.

In this regard, Amir Abdollahian and his counterparts agreed that an expert and technical committee formed by the Department of Environment, Foreign Ministry, and other relevant bodies of Iran be immediately sent to Iraq and Syria for a field review of the matter and exchange views with their peers in the two countries. The committee will then put the issue of collective regional cooperation on its urgent follow-up agenda to tackle the haze and to examine effective and swift measures to this end.

In this vein and given that regional cooperation to tackle the haze to some extent calls for Saudi Arabia’s involvement and active cooperation, it was agreed that Iraq’s top diplomat to pursue the issue along with his Saudi counterpart so that Riyadh participate in the regional initiative and help with the solving of the problem.

In the telephone consultations between the foreign ministers of Iran, Iraq, Syria and Kuwait, the top diplomats decided that a joint expert regional meeting should be held over the matter.

Kuwait’s top diplomat promised to follow up on the issue of dispatching the Iranian technical committee.

It should be noted that prior to the telephone talks, the Iranian foreign minister discussed the matter with his Turkish counterpart in their latest phone conversation and the Turkish foreign minister announced his country’s readiness to actively participate in these consultations and cooperation.

During a cabinet session on Wednesday, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi 
underlined the people’s right to “clean air,” saying, “The people’s health is a vital issue and air pollution is intolerable for the people.”

He pointed out that the people can’t bear air pollution happening every day and they expect the government to address the problem seriously. 

Accordingly, the president tasked the Department of Environment and the Foreign Ministry to immediately address the issue through negotiation with neighboring countries from which sand and dust storms originate. 

The choking dust storm has caused disruptions in daily lives in Tehran and many other Iranian cities over the last few days as local authorities announced the shutdown of government institutions such as schools and universities. Sand storms also coated other parts of the West Asia region such as Iraq, Kuwait, Syria, and the United Arab Emirates.

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