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Kurds react to U.S. oil cargo

Baghdad can't win this one, Kurdish government says.

By Daniel J. Graeber

ERBIL, Iraq, July 30 (UPI) -- The federal government of Iraq can't win its claims in the U.S. court system against Kurdish oil exports, the Kurdish natural resources minister said Wednesday.

"The federal government cannot win, because our crude is legally produced, shipped, exported, and sold in accordance with the rights of the Kurdistan region as set forth in the Iraqi constitution," Minister Ashti Hawrami said in a statement.

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The Iraqi federal government filed a petition in a U.S. court in Texas against a shipment of Kurdish crude oil parked off the coast of Texas. The court in turn called on U.S. Marshals to seize the oil should it enter U.S. territorial waters.

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the vessel containing about 1 million barrels of Kurdish oil, United Kalavyrta, is anchored outside U.S. jurisdiction.

"Our policy position remains the same, which is that we believe that oil should be transferred through the central government of Iraq," she told reporters Tuesday. "But again, this is a case where, because it's not in our jurisdiction, there's little we can do at this point in time."

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Hawrami said the semiautonomous Kurdish government has the legitimate right to export oil from the Turkish port of Ceyhan.

The federal government in Baghdad considers unilateral exports of oil to be a violation of national laws.

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