KRG welcomes statements by Iraq's new oil minister

Iraq, August 18, 2016

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region -The spokesperson of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) says Erbil is supportive of talks with Baghdad over oil export and revenues.

Speaking to Rudaw on Wednesday, Safeen Dizayee praised the newly appointed oil minister in Iraq Jabar al-Luaibi as "professional" and welcomed his recent comments about the Kurdistan Region.

"We are ready for talks and express our gratitude towards the new oil minister," Dizayee said, referring to al-Luaibi's comments on Monday in Iraq's Al-Sumariya TV, where the minister said he wanted to solve the pending disagreements with the Kurdish government over revenue sharing.

The Iraqi central government has virtually suspended all payments to the KRG since February 2014 after it accused Erbil of selling its oil independently of Baghdad.

The KRG is exporting around 500,000 barrels per day directly to the Turkish Ceyhan port and has received the revenues from international buyers largely without Baghdad's interference.

"If there is a strong will in Baghdad for negotiations, of course we are ready to meet," Dizayee said. "But for us the issue is not personal, as we had the same problems with former oil minister Adil Abdul Mahdi, who was even a great friend of the Kurds."

Al-Luaibi is one of five newly appointed ministers by Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi, who has struggled to reshuffle his controversial cabinet for months.

"We need to seriously look into the problems and find solutions that serve all the people of Iraq," Dizayee said.