Iraq and Turkey diffuse Kurdish oil row

Ankara agrees that it can only buy oil from autonomous northern region of Iraq with Baghdad's approval.

    Iraq and Turkey diffuse Kurdish oil row
    Turkey and Iraqi Kurdistan signed a multi-billion-dollar energy package last week [AFP]

    Baghdad and Ankara have agreed that oil exports from anywhere in Iraq need the central government's approval, Iraq's deputy prime minister for energy said, after a bi-lateral meeting aimed at solving a row over Kurdish energy resources.

    "We agree that any exports must be with the approval of the Iraqi government and we will discuss the mechanism," Hussain
    al-Shahristani said after a meeting with Turkey's Energy Minister Taner Yildiz in Baghdad.

    Yildiz was in Iraq to discuss Ankara's energy deals with Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region that the central government says are illegal.

    Taner Yildiz met on Sunday with Hussain al-Shahristani, Iraq's deputy prime minister for energy, to discuss the latest developments with a pipeline between Basra and Ceyhan.

    Turkey's courtship of the Kurdish region has infuriated the central government in Baghdad, which says it has the sole authority to manage Iraqi energy resources.

    Shahristani had said on Thursday that any energy deal with Arbil would be "an encroachment on the sovereignty of Iraq".

    Turkey and Iraqi Kurdistan signed a multi-billion-dollar energy package last week, sources close to the deal said on Friday that will help transform the Iraqi region into an oil and gas powerhouse.

    Turkey's foreign ministry said on Saturday that Ankara and Arbil had "agreed on some trade deals" but had yet to finalise them and said Turkey would seek Baghdad's cooperation on the issue.

    Fears of a break-up

    Baghdad says Kurdish efforts towards oil independence could lead to the break up of the country and the dispute has also caused concern in Washington.

    It remained unclear whether Yildiz will then travel to Arbil to attend an energy conference to be held this week, the official said, and added that the decision would be made in line with developments.

    It will be Yildiz's first visit to Iraq since his plane was denied permission to land by Baghdad late last year when he tried to attend an energy conference in Arbil.

    Turkey, hungry for energy and dependent on imports for almost all of its needs, says Iraqi Kurdistan's resources will help diversify its energy supplies and reduce its ballooning $60bn annual energy bill.

    SOURCE: Reuters


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