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Iraqi PM To Make First Visit To Kurdish Region

Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki
Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki
BAGHDAD -- Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is due to visit the country's Kurdish autonomous region to discuss outstanding issues with the regional government.

The visit will be Maliki's first to the region since he took office in 2006.

Kurdish regional parliament speaker Adnan Mufti told Radio Free Iraq that Maliki's talks with Kurdish officials will focus on such issues as oil deals signed by the regional government, regional government powers and, most importantly, the status of the oil-rich, multiethnic city of Kirkuk.

Mufti added that visits by officials from the federal and regional governments should be made more often in order to discuss problems.

Kurdish academic Bukhari Abdullah says that outstanding issues between the central and regional governments are mostly of a legal rather than political nature.

Maliki recently called for a stronger central government in Baghdad, provoking angry reaction from Kurdish politicians.