(AFP) Turkey cannot give more water to Iraq and Syria, Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said Thursday as officials from the three neighbours met here to discuss the sharing of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.
The Ankara talks follow Iraqi accusations last month that Turkey was holding back water despite a promise to increase the flow into its drought-stricken southern neighbour.
"We are aware of the need for water in our neighbours...but we do not have a lot of it in the reservoirs of our dams," Yildiz told reporters ahead of the meeting.
Turkey has increased the flow to 517 cubic meters per second (18,095 cubic feet per second) from the average 500 m3/second, the minister said.
"To be honest, it is not possible for us to increase this further. We cannot allow our own water and energy management to run into problems."
The talks were also attended by Turkey's Environment Minister Veysel Eroglu, Iraqi Water Minister Latif Rashid and Syrian Irrigation Minister Nader Bunni.
Issues to be discussed include joint measurement stations along the rivers, exchanging hydrological and meteorological data, seasonal monitoring of water levels and training programmes on climate change and the development of water sources, a Turkish statement said.
Iraq called for an urgent meeting with Syria and Turkey after the flow of water from the Euphrates river fell by more than half in less than a month.
Iraq said at the end of June that Turkey had increased the Eupharates flow from 360 m3/second to 570 m3/second to help overcome a shortage along the river which runs through Syria before reaching Iraq.
Baghdad also said that Ankara had promised to raise that to 715 cubic metres per second in July, August and September.
But last month, Iraq claimed that the amount was cut back to around only 250 cubic metres per second, around a quarter of the minimum requirement for irrigation.
Iraq and Syria have often complained that Turkey monopolises the waters of the Euphrates and Tigris through a series of dams built on both rivers as part of a massive project to irrigate its southeastern corner.