Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdish region is prepared to talk to all political blocs in Baghdad, said President Masoud Barzani as negotiations intensify in the Iraqi capital to form a new government.
"The Kurdish delegation is in Baghdad and we have no veto on any of the parties ... we are negotiating," Barzani told a news conference in Paris. "There will be no attempt to marginalise or weaken any of the parties in Baghdad, " he said, speaking through an interpreter.
The inaugural parliamentary session more than three months after the March 7 vote was a major step toward the establishment of a government but it appeared likely it would still take weeks for politicians to agree on a prime minister and other posts.
Minority Kurds, who are expected to be a partner in any government, have merged between their main coalition and a sprinkling of smaller parties, which would give them about 57 seats in the next parliament.
The Kurds have yet to signal whether they plan to back the tie-up between the State of Law party and the Iran-friendly Iraqi National Alliance, or the Iraqiya coalition led by former
Prime Minister Iyad Allawi.
The key issues for the Kurds have been the national government's view that various oil deals the Kurds signed independently with foreign firms were illegal, and what becomes
of the wealthy oil city of Kirkuk, which Kurds want wrapped into their region.
Iraq's cabinet in May approved a deal that would allow oil exports to resume in the Kurdish region after stopping last year and whereby expenses of foreign firms' expenses would be paid.
However, exports have yet to resume. When asked by Reuters why this was the case Barzani said: "There is a disagreement between the Kurdish government and the Iraqi government in regard the interpretation of the constitution," he said. "The constitution says that oil and gas belongs to all Iraqis and 17 percent of this oil should come back to Kurds and we stick to the constitution," he said.
If oil exports resume from the Kurdish region it is expected to be at a rate of 100,000 barrels per day (bpd), possibly reaching 250,000 bpd by the end of the year. Iraq exports the majority of its oil from its southern fields around the city of Basra at an average of 1.5 million bpd.
Barzani said there was no timeframe for the resumption of exports, but it could be possible once a new government is formed.
"We are ready," Barzani said.
ReutersLast Mod: 16 Haziran 2010, 08:33