Arbil-Ankara fuel deal on pipeline, barzani signals
Iraq's Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani has said the KRG has "started a process with Turkey" on an energy deal, underlining that the process is within the framework of the Iraqi Constitution. "We have started a process with Turkey and whatever we do will end for the benefit of the whole of Iraq," Barzani told reporters yesterday, in response to a question on whether Turkey and the KRG were close to reaching a deal, which is objected to by both the United States and the central government in Baghdad. "Whatever we have done and whatever we will be doing is within the [Iraqi] constitutional framework," he said. "The agreement with Turkey about energy is not a new one," Barzani added, in the wake of his meeting in Ankara with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in which Energy Minister Taner Yildiz and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu also participated. Officials from the Turkish Energy Ministry did not confirm that Turkey and the KRG had finalized an energy deal during Barzani's visit, despite speculations on the matter. "There are private sector deals," Yildiz told reporters, stressing that Turkey respected the unity of the Iraqi state. When reminded of the U.S. objection to an energy deal between the KRG and Turkey exclusive of Baghdad, Yildiz again referred to the private sector. "The private sector cannot remain indifferent to projects in Iraq … There are projects that we undertook two years ago. There are [oil and gas] areas in the east and west [of northern Iraq] that we will work on," he said. A broad energy partnership between Turkey and the Iraqi Kurds regarding the exploration and extension of oil-gas export pipelines from north Iraq to Turkish territory has been in effect since last year. Meanwhile, the KRG prime minister also expressed support to Turkey's ongoing efforts to find the Kurdish issue a peaceful solution.