Friday, September 14, 2007


Political parties deadlocked over Iraqi oil legislation

(AP) -- Iraq's main political parties are deadlocked over a key oil law and the legislation has been sent back to party leaders to see if they can salvage it, an official involved in the talks said Thursday. The Wednesday meeting failed after Shiite and Sunni Arab representatives were unable to agree with Kurdish negotiators, said the official, who represented a Shiite party in the talks and spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the process.
Deputy Prime Minister Barham Saleh, a Kurd, confirmed there were disagreements but refused to give details. "There are problems but the negotiations are still going on," he told The Associated Press. The Iraqi Cabinet approved a draft and forwarded it to parliament last February, a move hailed by the White House as a breakthrough in efforts to approve critical legislation for the nation's future. But parliament kicked the bill back to the Cabinet citing legal technicalities and the measure has been bogged down in further negotiations ever since.
At Wednesday's meeting, Shiites and Sunni Arabs agreed on language giving more powers to the predominantly Sunni center of the country - where there is little oil - while Kurds argued in favor of more control for their semiautonomous and oil-rich northern region as outlined in the Cabinet-approved version, the official said.
Other disagreements came over how to manage oil fields, both operating and as-yet undiscovered, the official said. The Shiites and Sunni Arabs argued that contracts covering fields that produce more than 100,000 barrels of oil per day must have parliamentary approval, and that contracts from smaller fields should be approved by the state-run National Oil Company, the official said. The Kurdish side argued that contracts should be decided by regional authorities, he said.

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