Iraqi PM reiterates call for Kurdistan oil exports to Baghdad in exchange for budget

BAGHDAD,— Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi reiterated the Kurdistan Region should resume oil exports to Baghdad in exchange for its share of the federal budget to Erbil, the premier’s office said on Monday.
Abadi’s office released a statement regarding a meeting on Monday between a delegation from the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and senior Iraqi officials, including Abadi.
According to the statement, Abadi stressed the KRG should export its oil through Baghdad and Iraq would send the Kurdistan Region’s 17 percent share of the federal budget.
“Exporting oil and sending the Kurdistan Region’s budget should be according to a joint, clear and transparent agreement which will be in the interest of the public,” the statement said.
“Nechirvan Barzani and Haider al-Abadi reached an agreement for technical talks between the Iraqi and Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG)’s oil ministries about production and distribution of oil from the Kurdistan and Kirkuk oilfields,” read a statement issued by Abadi’s office.
“To reach a solution about exporting the Kurdistan Region’s oil through the Iraqi government, Abadi reiterated increasing consultation with the KRG,” the statement continued. “In return for the export of oil by the KRG via Baghdad, the Iraqi government, through a mutual agreement, will give the deserved financial share to the KRG in a transparent mechanism.”
Both sides agreed to a discussion between the KRG Ministry of Natural Resources and the Iraqi Ministry of Oil on the suspended issue of Kirkuk’s oil, the statement from Abadi’s office added.
The KRG delegation headed by Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani arrived in Baghdad on Monday to discuss issues between Baghdad and Erbil with Iraqi officials.
The delegation was received by Abadi, Iraqi Finance Minister Hoshyar Zebari and the former Minister of Planning, Salman Jumaili.
Tensions between the KRG and the central government hit a high in 2015, after officials from both sides accused each other of failing to abide by the terms of an oil revenue sharing deal struck by officials in December 2014.
Officials from Baghdad and Erbil signed a revenue sharing deal, under which the KRG would receive 17 percent of the federal budget in exchange for exporting 550,000 barrels of oil per day to the Iraqi State Organization for Marketing Oil (SOMO) at Ceyhan Port in Turkey.
Speaking prior to the meetings, KRG spokesperson Safeen Dizayee said that “security, the liberation of Mosul, future relations between Baghdad and Erbil and other relevant topics”
On August 22, a high-level Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) delegation head by Mullah Bakhtiar arrived in Baghdad.
Bakhtyar revealed that their visit to Baghdad was timely and “important” because they were able to discuss a range of critical issues that have remained unsolved between the central government and Erbil.
“The visit by the PUK delegation to Baghdad was important,” he said. “To resolve constitutional, economic and political issues we have to return to Baghdad and there we should announce our goals.”
He also claimed that the delegation did not make any specific calls for the party’s interest but rather represented the government’s interests.
“Our calls were to resolve the budget and salaries of the Kurdistan Region, as well as other problems,” he said.
One of the pending issues is oil. Bakhtyar stated that “Baghdad is ready to resume talks with Erbil to resolve oil issues between both sides.”
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