ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – A Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) delegation arrived in Baghdad on Saturday and held a meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mahdi to discuss critical issues of mutual concern, including the oil file and the region’s share of the national annual budget.
The Kurdish delegation consisted of Minister of Finance and Economy Awat Sheikh Janab, Minister of the Region for Negotiations with Baghdad Khalid Shwani, as well as several other senior KRG officials.
A source familiar with the matter told Kurdistan 24 the delegation discussed issues related to oil and energy and the KRG’s share of the fiscal budget for 2020 in addition to debt and trade.
The trip to Baghdad marks the first once since anti-government protests began in the capital and spread to southern cities at the start of October. Amid a violent crackdown, over 325 protesters have been killed and close to 16,000 others have been wounded.
Following a near-total breakdown of ties between Erbil and Baghdad in 2017, the governments have converged on a range of issues, especially after Abdul Mahdi came into office in late 2018. Talks struck a pause recently as Baghdad’s focus shifted due to the unrest.
KRG representative to Baghdad, Faris Issa, told Kurdistan 24 that Erbil and Baghdad are “near a solution” regarding issues related to the KRG’s share of the national budget and salaries of public workers.
“The salary of employees will not be cut. This is a red line for us, and there is a good understanding on the issue of oil delivery,” he said.
Negotiations on oil and gas exports have been among key issues between the two governments. The autonomous Kurdish government has exported its oil independently since 2013.
Following the post-referendum fallout, the KRG agreed to send 250,000 barrels of oil per day (bpd) to Baghdad in exchange for the payment of civil servants’ salaries and other budgetary disbursements.
The KRG has yet to implement the oil article.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany