US, Turkey join hands for Iraq energy dispute
Emine Kart ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
AP PhotoTurkish and U.S. officials have shared concerns over an ongoing dispute between Baghdad and the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) over the latter’s oil deals with foreign companies, agreeing that the dispute should be resolved through “dialogue and in line with the Iraqi Constitution.”
Tensions have also been running high between the governments in Ankara and Baghdad over Turkey’s decision to buy crude oil from the KRG, a move that the Iraqi central government claims is “illegal.”
“Turkish and U.S. officials have maintained that the dispute should be resolved through dialogue between the central government and the regional government. The Turkish and U.S. sides are also singing the same tune that this resolution should also be in line with the related articles of the Iraqi Constitution,” the same sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the Hürriyet Daily News.
The issue was discussed during meetings of U.S. Ambassador Carlos Pascual, the State Department’s special envoy and coordinator for international energy affairs, with senior Turkish officials which took place on Sept. 6-7. At the Foreign Ministry, the U.S. delegation was received by the undersecretary, Ambassador Feridun Sinirlioğlu.
“Heeding Turkey’s geo-strategic position in regards to energy issue, Pascual held consultations in Ankara,” the Turkish diplomat briefly said.
Pascual is the State Department’s
special envoy for international
Baghdad and Arbil are at odds over the KRG’s refusal to seek approval from Baghdad for oil contracts it has awarded to foreign firms. Turkey’s recent move in directly purchasing crude oil from northern Iraq was declared illegal by Baghdad which has already threatened Western oil companies with a ban from the country’s rich southern oil fields in the event they continue direct trade with the KRG. ExxonMobil has been eliminated from a tender for new oil fields in the south.
Turkish officials use careful wording while addressing the dispute in Iraq, describing it as a domestic problem of its neighbor. However, it cannot avoid taking risks to meet its growing energy needs. The official growth target, more than 4 percent for 2012, is widening the gap even further.
According to a written statement released by the U.S. Embassy in Ankara on Sept. 7, efforts to promote Southern Corridor gas exports from the Caspian Sea to Europe were also on the agenda of the U.S. delegation’s visit.