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Iraq transfers money to Kurdish region in budget accord



The Iraqi government has transferred USD 500 million to the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region in northern Iraq as part of a deal hoped to end long-running domestic oil and budget disputes, Iraqi finance minister says.

Hoshyar Zebari said in Baghdad on Wednesday that his ministry transferred the sum to the account of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) earlier in the day under the deal which requires Iraq to resume funding Kurdish civil servant salaries in return for a share of Kurdish oil exports.

He said the KRG began supplying 150,000 barrels of crude oil per day to State Oil Marketing Organization (SOMO) storage tanks in the Turkish port city of Ceyhan on Tuesday.

"This mutual implementation means that the two sides are ready to resolve all the other issues and all the issues are up for discussion," Zebari stated.

Iraqi Oil Minister Adil Abdul Mahdi has praised the deal between Baghdad and the KRG, saying it reduces friction "that threatens not only economic, security and political interests, but also threatens national unity."

Baghdad has long expressed strong opposition to Kurdistan’s independent export of oil without its consent, and cut the Kurdish region’s share of the budget in early March to punish its leaders. The KRG blasted Baghdad over budget allocation freeze.

The recent accord between Baghdad and Kurdish authorities is seen as a significant achievement for Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi, and has raised hopes for the two sides to strengthen their cooperation, particularly in the fight against the ISIL Takfiri terrorists operating over large swathes of land in Iraq.

MP/KA/SS

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