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Iraqi PM's Office Says Turkey Agrees To Deal Only With Baghdad On Oil Exports

Iraqi parliament speaker Salim al-Jubouri (right) meets with Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi in Baghdad on September 27.
Iraqi parliament speaker Salim al-Jubouri (right) meets with Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi in Baghdad on September 27.

Turkey told Iraq it would deal only with the Iraqi government on crude-oil exports, the office of Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi said on September 28.

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim confirmed in a telephone conversation with Abadi the "support of his country for all decisions" made or sought by the Iraqi government after the independence referendum held in Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region on September 25, Abadi's office said in a statement.

Among these measures, the statement mentioned "restricting oil export (operations) to the Iraqi government."

It didn't give more details or say how Ankara would deal with current crude exports from Iraq's Kurdish region.

On September 27, the Iraqi parliament asked Abadi to send troops to the Kurdish-held Kirkuk region and take control of its oil fields.

"The government has to bring the oil fields of Kirkuk back under the control of the Oil Ministry," said a resolution voted on by parliament and seen by Reuters.

Kirkuk, a multiethnic oil-rich region, has been under the control of Kurdish Peshmerga fighters since 2014, when the Iraqi Army fled in the face of Islamic State militants.

The Kurdish presence in the region prevented the oil fields from being captured by the militants.

The resolution called on Abadi to "issue orders for the security forces to deploy in the disputed areas, including Kirkuk."

The Kurdish regional government (KRG) included Kirkuk, an area which is also home to Turkoman and Arab communities but has been historically claimed by the Kurds, in the independence referendum.

Abadi, meanwhile, demanded that the referendum be annulled.

"The referendum must be annulled and dialogue initiated in the framework of the constitution. We will never hold talks on the results of the referendum," Abadi told Iraqi lawmakers.

The autonomous region’s election authorities say the independence referendum passed with 92.7 percent support and turnout of more than 72 percent.

While Kurdish leaders continued to call for talks with Baghdad over the independence vote, a powerful Iranian-backed Shi'ite militia in Iran backed Abadi in refusing dialogue and taking a tough line against Kurdish leaders, including possibly using force to assert Baghdad's control over the region.

"We will not allow the division of Iraq," said Ahmed al-Asadi, a spokesman for the Shi'ite Popular Mobilization Forces. But he said his fighters would not target the Kurdish people as a whole.

"Those who held the referendum and divided Iraq, those are our targets," he said.

The Shi'ite militia has units near Kirkuk, which Asadi said are awaiting orders "to go to any city or disputed area to impose government control according to the constitution."

With reporting by Reuters, AFP, AP, and dpa
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