KUWAIT: Kuwait's Environment Public Authority signed an agreement with Iran's Department of Environment to cooperate on combating sand and dust storms affecting the region and find appropriate solutions. Director General of EPA Sheikh Abdullah Ahmad Al-Sabah said the cooperation agreement is directed at finding the source of the sand and dust storms in the region.

Sheikh Abdullah explained in his statement that these storms originate far from the area but negatively affect people in the region, "so we are working with specialists to establish more green spaces". He said Kuwait seeks to establish targeted environmental projects and hold joint studies and research with the countries of the region, in addition to exchange experiences and benefit from the experiences of others in this field.

Ali Salajeh, Assistant to the Iranian President and Head of the Department of Environment, said "cooperation in a wide variety of fields will be our focus as we consider what we can do to redirect these environmentally devastating storms". Iran has begun research on this topic and is ready to present the results of its analyses to Kuwait for better collaborative efforts between both countries, he added.

Public buildings in several Iranian provinces were closed Tuesday due to pollution unleashed by a sandstorm, local media said. The closures applied to the southwestern province of Khuzestan, the central province of Isfahan, North Khorasan in the northeast and Kerman in the southeast, state television said. State news agency IRNA reported that state offices continued to function in at least three other provinces that were also hit by the heavy pollution.

Authorities on Monday had announced a 24-hour closure of government offices in Tehran and Alborz provinces, along with the judiciary and schools, owing to the effects of the sandstorm. Such weather events, which can lead to hospitalizations due to respiratory complaints, have long hit the region but have become more frequent in recent years. They have been especially prevalent this year in neighboring Iraq, where at least 10,000 people were hospitalized with breathing problems caused by sandstorms in May alone. - Agencies