ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Marking the second visit since nationwide protests began in October, a delegation from the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) is due to arrive in Baghdad to hold further talks on issues of mutual concern, a KRG official said on Sunday.
KRG spokesperson Jutiyar Adil said during a press conference in Erbil on Sunday that the Kurdish negotiating delegation met and briefed Prime Minister Masrour Barzani on the progress made during talks with Baghdad.
The KRG delegation went to Baghdad on Saturday and held a series of meetings with senior Iraqi officials, including Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mahdi. The talks focused on several issues, the most important of which includes the oil file, the KRG share of the national budget for 2020, and the salaries of the Kurdistan Region’s public servants.
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.
Speaking to Kurdistan 24 on Saturday, KRG representative to Baghdad Faris Issa said Erbil and Baghdad are “near a solution” regarding issues related to the KRG’s share of the national budget and salaries of public servants.
“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.
Saturday’s 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 late 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 protests that are still ongoing.
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