By Zack Colman - 05/14/13 07:21 PM EDT
U.S. officials have opposed a Turkish-KRG oil agreement, fearing it would undermine Iraq’s central government. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki says that the KRG does not have authority to cement such deals without a green light from Baghdad, though the KRG disputes that.
As a result, some U.S. officials worry transactions that buoy the region’s Sunni and Kurdish groups could push al-Maliki, a Shiite, into Shia-run Iran’s orbit.
A State Department official told The Hill that it was aware of the reports, but would not confirm them. Signing agreements for oil production and exploration without Baghdad's consent opens parties up to legal risk, the official said.
Exxon declined to comment.
The Wall Street Journal has Erdogan's comments below, and more on the deal here:
"Countries from various parts of the world are taking steps to explore and produce oil in different parts of Iraq, and then deliver it to world oil markets. There's nothing more normal, more natural than Turkey, which provides all kinds of support and aid to its next-door neighbor, to take a step that is based on mutual benefit," Mr. Erdogan said.
"The regional government in northern Iraq has a constitutional right to 17% of [oil and gas] revenues. Since it has the ability to readily spend that share, it's in its right to use that in exchanges with Turkey. It is possible for us to have mutual agreements, there's nothing to prevent that," Mr. Erdogan told reporters in televised comments from Ankara before boarding his jet.
— This story was updated at 4:56 p.m.