Kurds to resume talks with Baghdad on outstanding issues

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By Abbas al-Baghdadi

Azzaman, October 13, 2014

A high-level Kurdish delegation will pay a visit to Baghdad within a few days in the last attempt to solve issues driving the sides apart, said Mahmoud Othman, the head of the Kurdish parliamentary bloc in Baghdad.

Nejervan Barzani, the head of the Kurdish regional government in Arbil, is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Haider Abadi next week, Othman said.

“The delegations will discuss files related to oil and gas and the Kurdish region’s share of the budget as well as salaries of peshmerga and the fate of the disputed areas,” Othman add, citing a long list of problems the sides still need to solve.

Despite the threat posed by Islamic State (IS) with its militants fighting pitched battles close to Baghdad and the Kurdish capital Arbil, the sides still have a long way to go to solve their differences.

Hundreds of thousands of Kurdish civil servants and members Kurdish militias known as peshmerga have gone without pay for months as Baghdad refuses to transfer Kurdish share of oil royalties to Arbil.

Baghdad government has vowed that it will only start paying Kurds when they bring their oil production and exports under the control of the Oil Ministry in Baghdad, the thing which Iraqi Kurds have refused to do.

“There is a Kurdish delegation chaired by Nejervan Barzani which will arrive in Baghdad next week for talks on issues dividing both Baghdad and Arbil,” Othman said.

The Kurds were initially encouraged when IS militants routed Iraqi army units in north-western Iraq. Their leaders utilized the security vacuum and send their militias to occupy large swathes of north-eastern parts of Iraq.

But IS militants attacked Kurdish militias and advanced close to the city of Arbil.

Baghdad says the Kurds must eventually withdraw from areas they occupied in the aftermath of IS’s invasion, including the oil-rich city of Kirkuk which currently under full Kurdish control.