BAGHDAD Oct 2 Iraq's Finance Ministry has begun
paying an initial $650 million to Iraqi Kurdistan for oil
companies working in the autonomous region, Deputy Prime
Minister Rosh Nuri al-Shawish told Reuters on Tuesday.
Baghdad and Kurdistan agreed last month to draw a line under
a dispute over oil payments, after the latter pledged to
continue exports and Baghdad said it would pay foreign companies
Kurdistan has angered Baghdad by signing deals with foreign
oil majors, such as Exxon and Chevron, contracts
the central government rejects as illegal.
"The federal Finance Ministry has started transferring the
first oil payment of $650 million to the Kurdish region," said
Shawish, a Kurdish member of the central government negotiating
In April, Kurdistan halted shipments of its oil in protest
over what it said were overdue payments from the central
government to companies in the Kurdish region.
It later resumed shipments, but threatened to cut them off
again if there was no agreement on payment.
Kurdish Energy Minister Ashti Hawrami said on Sunday
payments would be transferred to the autonomous region that same
day, offering hope the long-running conflict is easing.
The oil contracts row is part of a broader battle between
the Baghdad government and Kurdistan over oil rights, territory
and regional autonomy that is straining Iraq's uneasy federal