October 30, 2018 / 03:26 PM
Erbil to enter serious talks with Baghdad after government formation: KDP

The autonomous Kurdistan Region will start a serious dialogue with Baghdad to resolve all differences between both sides once the new Iraqi government is fully formed and begins working, Hoshyar Siwaily, the head of the Kurdistan Democratic Party's (KDP) foreign relations office, told Sputnik on Monday.

"The government will be entering into serious negotiations with the federal government to resolve all the issues which both governments currently have, especially the new government headed by the new prime minister… When the full cabinet is in place, the serious dialogue and negotiations will start between our government, KRG [the Kurdistan Regional Government], and the federal government," Hoshyar Siwaily, head of the Kurdistan Democratic Party's (KDP) foreign relations office, told Sputnik on Monday.

According to the KDP representative, the Kurds have supported Abdul-Mahdi’s nomination and would be monitoring his stance on the Iraqi Kurdistan issue.

"We have supported him and we will be supporting him, we will be monitoring his performance, achievements, especially where relations between Baghdad and Erbil are concerned. We hope the new prime minister who is a good politician, who is a friend of the Kurds, will be able to learn from the mistakes of the past, especially the mistakes the previous prime minister committed against the Kurdistan Region. We are positive," he added.

Additionally, there is "a continuous dialogue and telephone talks" between the Iraqi Kurdistan leadership and Abdul-Mahdi, Siwaily said.

On October 3, newly elected Iraqi President Barham Salih, a Kurdish politician, named Shiite Adil Abdul-Mahdi, who was Iraq's oil minister between 2014 and 2016, as the country's prime minister and tasked him with forming a new government. Abdul-Mahdi was sworn in on Thursday, as well as 14 out of 22 ministers he had designated.

Siwaily also said that the two sides intend to discuss articles in the constitution that concern the oil and gas industry, as the federal government of Iraq and autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan region are ready to sit down for talks to settle the dispute over control of the country's oil and gas reserves.

"Both sides are ready for talks and have the intention to resolve all the issues, including the oil and gas issue, the revenue issue which we have with Baghdad, so we are optimistic," Siwaily said.

The official added that "oil and gas is one of the crucial issues between Erbil and Baghdad. We have to sit down and resolve these issues according to our constitution. Some of the articles in the constitution specifically talk about oil and gas issue. So hopefully there will be a room."

Until recently, the oil-rich province of Kirkuk was under the control of the Iraqi Kurds. However after the Kurds held an independence referendum in September 2017, Baghdad launched an offensive and regained control over Kirkuk in the following month. Soon after that Baghdad reported that it would establish a special committee aimed at developing oil production in the region and would create a group of experts together with BP to analyze the situation in Kirkuk.

Relations between Baghdad and Erbil escalated after Iraqi Kurdistan held an independence referendum in September 2017, which was later deemed illegal by the Iraqi federal government.

In response to Erbil's decision to secede, Baghdad launched a military operation and took control over the Kurdish oil-rich province of Kirkuk, as well as imposed sanctions, restricted banking operations, closed border crossings and banned international flights to and from the region. The restrictive measures were lifted in January after Kurdish government authorities and private institutions accepted the authority of the federal government of Iraq. The Iraqi Kurdistan has not yet announced if it planned to hold another independence referendum in the future.

Reporter’s code: 50101