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Baghdad Glad Ankara Didnít Sign Illegal Kurd Deal

Source: Reuters 11/28/2013, Location: Middle East

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Baghdad appreciates Turkey's decision not to sign any oil export deal with Iraq's northern Kurdistan region, after meetings between the two this week, as such exports would be illegal, it said.

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

Iraqi Kurdistan's prime minister visited his Turkish counterpart this week in Ankara and had been expected to finalise a package of energy deals. However there were no announcements of any agreements after the meetings.

"Oil and gas in all Iraqi territory is the property of all Iraqis," said a statement from the office of the deputy prime minister for energy, Hussain al-Shahristani.

It added that any energy deal with Kurdistan would be "an encroachment on the sovereignty of Iraq."

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

"We appreciate the government's failure to sign an agreement for exporting oil illegally," it said, adding that Baghdad looked forward to the visit of Turkish officials to Iraq to discuss the matter.

Sources close to energy talks between Iraqi Kurdistan and Turkey said earlier this month that the two sides had finalised a comprehensive package of deals to build multi-billion dollar oil and gas pipelines to ship the autonomous region's rich hydrocarbon reserves to world markets.

The deals, which could have important geopolitical consequences for the Middle East, would see Kurdistan export some 2 million barrels per day (bpd) of oil to world markets and at least 10 billion cubic metres per year of gas to Turkey, the sources said.

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