Iraq says Turkey rejects Kurd export pipelines

Mon Feb 25, 2013 8:58am EST
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By Ahmed Rasheed

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Turkey has told Iraq it will reject any extension of oil and gas pipelines from Kurdistan without the approval of the Baghdad government, Iraq's oil minister Abdul Kareem Luaibi was quoted as saying by the state media network on Monday.

Iraq's Arab-led central government and the Kurdistan regional government (KRG), run by ethnic Kurds, are in a long-running dispute over how to exploit the country's crude reserves and divide the revenues.

Baghdad says it alone has the authority to control export of the world's fourth largest oil reserves, while the Kurds say their right to do so is enshrined in Iraq's federal constitution, drawn up following the U.S.-led invasion of 2003.

"Turkey has officially informed Iraq it rejects extending oil and gas export pipelines from the Kurdistan region to pass through Turkey without approval from federal government," the network quoted the minister as saying.

The Turkish energy ministry declined to comment on the statement.

Kurdistan's Minister for Natural Resources Ashti Hawrami said earlier this month the autonomous region was pressing ahead with plans to build its own oil export pipeline to Turkey, despite objections from the United States, which fears the project could lead to the break-up of Iraq.

Resource-hungry Turkey has heavily courted Iraqi Kurds, straining ties with the Iraqi central government.

Prime Minister Nuri al Maliki's media advisor Ali al-Moussawi said Turkey's rejection of the pipeline would help enhance bilateral relations between Ankara and Baghdad, which have deteriorated over the past year.   Continued...

Iraqi Kurdish Minister for Natural Resources Ashti Hawrami speaks during a news conference in Arbil, about 350 km (217 miles) north of Baghdad February 7, 2013.REUTERS/Azad Lashkari