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More talks needed to resolve issues between Erbil and Baghdad: Minister

Dialogue to begin after formation of KRG cabinet
Iraqi Finance Minister Fuad Hussein
2019-06-16

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SULAIMANI — Iraqi Minister of Finance Fuad Hussein said more talks are needed to resolve the outstanding issues between Erbil and Baghdad.

Hussein said in an interview with Kurdistan Democratic Party-affiliated media published on Sunday (June 16) that efforts continue to resolve the issues of oil, budget and the disputed areas.

" All the suspended issues could be resolved through talks and understanding,” he said.

Dialogue between official from the Kurdistan Region and Iraq will begin after the formation of the new cabinet of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), he added.

Relations between the federal government and the KRG have been tense over the last five years, not least because of disagreements over oil revenue and exports.

A revenue-sharing deal struck between Baghdad and Erbil in December 2014 collapsed after the KRG stopped transferring oil to the federal State Organization for Marketing of Oil (SOMO) and began trying to sell oil on international markets.

Baghdad in turn stopped sending budget payments to Erbil.

The Council of Representatives passed the 2019 federal budget law in January, which included several measures designed to normalize and improve relations between Erbil and Baghdad.

Under the terms of the law, the Kurdistan Region receives 12.67 percent of the budget. In return, Erbil is required to transfer 250,000 barrels of oil per day to SOMO and implement a number of transparency measures.

Currently, Erbil is not making the oil transfers, claiming that it has a number of obligations to fulfill from preexisting contracts.

Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mahdi, whose government has prioritized improving relations with the KRG, has so far been tolerant of that justification.

But it has caused consternation in Baghdad, with some politicians complaining that they are nevertheless required to send money to the Region.

(NRT Digital Media)