February 27, 2018 / 5:54 PM / 4 months ago

Iraq PM agrees with Kurdish authorities to resume Kirkuk oil exports

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq’s government has agreed with Kurdish regional authorities to resume Kirkuk oil exports through Turkey’s Ceyhan port soon, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said on Tuesday without giving a precise timeline for restarting the flow.

Iraq's Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi speaks during a ceremony in Najaf, Iraq January 7, 2018. REUTERS/Alaa Al-Marjani

“It was agreed with the Kurdish side to start exporting oil from Kirkuk,” Abadi told a weekly news conference, adding that the two sides had agreed to tackle other differences later.

Abadi also said discussions with the Kurds and the Turkish government were ongoing, without giving details.

Kurdish officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

Kirkuk crude sales have been halted since Iraqi forces took back control of the oilfields from the Kurds in October following a Sept. 25 referendum on Kurdish independence.

Baghdad responded to the plebiscite, in which Kurds overwhelmingly voted for independence, by dislodging the Kurdish Peshmerga from territories claimed by both Baghdad and the Kurds, including the oil city of Kirkuk.

It also introduced a series of measures curtailing the Kurdish region’s autonomy, including a ban on direct international travel to the two main Kurdish airports.

Kirkuk’s oilfields had been under Kurdish control since 2014, when the Iraqi army collapsed in the face of Islamic State. The Kurdish move prevented the militants from seizing the region’s oilfields.

Reporting by Ahmed Rasheed. Writing by Raya Jalabi.Editing by Edmund Blair and Jane Merriman

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