U.S.: Iraq's oil wealth good for region

Feb. 7, 2013 at 8:02 AM
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BAGHDAD, Feb. 7 (UPI) -- The U.S. government says it would regrettable should Turkey be excluded from the full benefits of oil reserves from neighboring Iraq, an envoy said.

Iraqi oil exports from the semiautonomous Kurdish north have been a source of contention between the regional and central governments, which are at odds over who has the ultimate say over parts of the oil sector.

U.S. Ambassador to Turkey Francis Ricciardone said in Ankara that economic turmoil could lead to greater conflict in a region already strained by violence.

"Economic success can hold Iraq together. Failure could support those forces' attempt to disintegrate," he was quoted by Turkish daily newspaper Hurriyet as saying. "And that would not be good for Turkey, for the U.S. or anybody in the region, I believe."

Turkish company Genel Energy is among those that have angered Baghdad for working in the Kurdish north. The central government said independent contracts with the Kurdish administration are violations of the federal constitution.

Ricciardone said he'd "love to see" Ankara gain access to all of the oil and natural gas riches in neighboring Iraq.

"We'd love to see Turkish companies profit off that," he said.

Stuart Bowen, the U.S. special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, said in his quarterly report in October that there was progress in settling oil export issues but warned that "relations between the Kurdistan Regional Government and Baghdad remain tense."

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