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Iraqi Government, KRG 'Agree' On Oil/Gas Bill

November 11, 2011

BAGHDAD -- A senior Iraqi official says the Iraqi government and the Kurdish regional government (KRG) have reached a tentative agreement on a contentious oil and gas bill and other issues, RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq reports.

Adal Barwari, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's adviser for Kurdish affairs, told RFE/RL on November 10 that the three committees formed by agreement during KRG Prime Minister Barham Salih's visit to Baghdad in late October completed their final reports on November 5.

Barwari said they reached mutually acceptable solutions to the issues of oil; disputed territory, in particular oil-rich Kirkuk; and the status of the Kurdish "peshmerga" forces.

Barwari said the reports from the three committees were submitted only to Maliki and Salih, and he was therefore unable to give details of the agreed-to compromises.

Meanwhile, Salih, who met with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden in Washington on November 8, told reporters that a new draft of the oil and gas law -- which was a major bone of contention between Baghdad and the KRG -- had been agreed on and would be presented to parliament for approval by the end of the year.

Salih declined to comment on the contents of the new draft legislation.

Bahaa al-Din Ahmad, a member of parliament's Oil and Energy Committee, told RFE/RL the committee expected to receive the amended version of the oil and gas bill soon, since the Eid al-Adha holiday was over, and would be immediately passed on first reading.

Din Ahmad said that more than 90 percent of the articles had already been agreed and the remaining disagreement mainly concerned the rights of the KRG to sign contracts with foreign oil companies.

He added that the new draft neither undermined the powers of the central government nor undercut the rights of the KRG.

The KRG rejected a draft law approved by the Iraqi cabinet in September and called for its withdrawal on the grounds that it would have given Baghdad the power to control the oil wealth at the expense of the autonomous region.

Source: http://www.rferl.org/content/baghdad_kurds_ agree_on_oil_gas_bill/24388290.html

Copyright (c) 2011. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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