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Iran Warns Neighbors to Stay away from Orumiyeh Lake Issue

Source: Fars News Agency

Iran on Tuesday stressed that the issue of its Orumiyeh Lake is internal, and cautioned the neighboring states to stay away from it.

Lake Urmia (Orumieh) is a salt lake in northwestern Iran near Turkey. The lake is between the provinces of East Azarbaijan and West Azarbaijan, west of the southern portion of the similarly shaped Caspian Sea. It is the largest lake inside Iran, and the third salt water lake on earth, with a surface area of approximately 5,200 km square (2,000 mile square).

"Orumiyeh Lake is an internal issue of our country and its status is under study by the relevant state officials," Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin Mehman-Parast said in his weekly press conference today.

"We will definitely do our best to revive the ecosystem of the lake to a desirable condition," he added.

Mehman-Parast further dismissed the remarks made by certain officials of the neighboring states about the Lake as "unacceptable", and urged them to avoid speaking about other countries' internal issues.

Orumiyeh Lake has recently come under the threat of drying up. The recent drought has significantly decreased the annual amount of water Orumiyeh receives. This in turn has increased the salinity of Orumiyeh's water, causing the Lake to lose its significance as home to thousands of migratory birds, such as flamingoes.

In September, Iran's First Vice-President Mohammad Reza Rahimi announced that government has plans to save the dying lake of Orumiyeh in the Northwestern parts of the country.

One of the plans is to use Iran's share of the Aras river to pump it to the lake in the first six months of the year (starting from March 21 according to Iranian calendar), Rahimi said.

The Aras river is located in and along the countries of Iran, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Turkey.

Mehman-Parast noted possible disputes that may rise among the neighboring countries over the Aras river as a shared source of water, and said that some relevant committees are already working on the issue to keep the conditions desirable.

Orumiyeh Lake is a salt lake in Northwestern Iran, near Iran's border with Turkey. The lake is between the Iranian provinces of East Azerbaijan and West Azerbaijan, West of the Southern portion of the similarly shaped Caspian Sea.

It is the largest lake in the Middle East and the third largest salt water lake on earth, with a surface area of approximately 5,200 c/km (2,000 c/mile), 140 km (87 miles) length, 55 km (34 miles) width, and 16 m (52 ft) depth.

The Lake is home to some 212 species of birds, 41 reptiles, 7 amphibians, and 27 species of mammals, including the Iranian yellow deer.

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