Iraq-Iran trade meeting pledges $5 billion

Feb. 12, 2009 at 5:35 PM

BAGHDAD, Feb. 12 (UPI) -- A joint Iraq-Iran trade meeting in Baghdad called for $5 billion in new trade, including in the oil and electricity sectors, and agreed on follow-up committees.

"There is a need for more cooperation in the oil sector. We are expecting a delegation's visit concerning the oil sector," said Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, who led his country's delegation, reports the Badr newspaper, which is operated by the Iran-linked political party Islamic Supreme Council in Iraq. "Additionally, more cooperation is needed in monitoring earthquakes at the border areas, to make use of (Iran's) Abadan refinery. And to make use of areas that are full of propane."

Iraq and Iran have been slowly reviewing border disputes created during their war in the 1980s. There are oil fields at or near the borders. The Shat-al-Arab waterway in the south, straddled by the two countries as it flows into the Persian Gulf, has ships and mines from the war buried as well.

Among the proposals, apart from developing oil fields, is a pipeline project sending oil to Iran and refined products back to Iraq.

Iraqi Trade Minister Abdel Falah al-Sudani said trade between the two countries is at $4 billion currently and said any disputes will be resolved by ongoing discussions.

"There is a draft agreement, which has been prepared and presented by the Iranian side," he said. "We have reviewed the Iranian draft agreement, and we are waiting for the Parliament's authorization to sign this agreement."

Iraq's Electricity Ministry also has struck deals for importing power and developing power projects with Iran.

"We need to increase joint cooperation in the electricity field," Mottaki said. "There are three lines to transmit electricity to Iraq. We are working on increasing the supplied amount of power to 600 megawatts."

In a statement Wednesday, Iraq's Trade Ministry issued a statement that reads, in part: "Iraq and Iran have agreed on a road map to activate the economic, trading, educational and scientific relations, and to increase the amount of trade exchange to reach annually $5 billion.

"The two sides agreed on forming various committees to discuss all the relevant topics between the two countries, and to review previous agreements in order to push them to advanced levels," the statement continued. "This will contribute to an increase in the countries' trade and economic exchanges, and to develop the joint projects in electricity, transportation, water resources and banks' sectors."

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