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Iraqi oil minister questions tenure

VIENNA, March 18 (UPI) -- The embattled Iraqi oil minister said he doesn't want to continue in the post in the next Iraqi government.

Iraq could boost oil exports by as much as 100,000 barrels per day when the Tawke oilfield in Iraqi Kurdistan resumes production within the month. Production there was halted in September because of lingering disputes between the Kurdish and central government over oil jurisdiction.

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Iraq aims to transform its oil sector with contracts inked with international companies in December.

Iraq, meanwhile, is inching closer to shaping its new government as results from March 7 parliamentary elections trickle in. Iraqi Oil Minister Hussain al-Shahristani told the Emirati newspaper The National he did not wish to have another term in office, however.

"I wouldn't try to stay unless I was forced to stay," he said in Vienna. "It wouldn't be my wish,"

Shahristani faced challenges to his authority by Kurdish leaders who continue to strike oil deals in defiance of his ministry.

Lawmakers called the minister in for questioning most recently on Nov. 9, when he was asked about alleged corruption and declines in oil revenue.

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