Obama seeks Turkey's help on Iraq oil

President Obama in a phone call Wednesday urged Turkey's prime minister not to import Iraqi oil until Iraq's central government can reach a deal with its oil-rich Kurkish region.

Baghdad and the Kurdish capital have so far failed to reach a revenue-sharing agreement that would allow the autonomous region to export oil to Turkey with Baghdad's blessing. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has repeatedly clashed with Iraq's Shiite leader, Nouri al-Maliki, but has so far abstained from importing Kurdish oil over the objections of Baghdad and Washington, which is worried that unauthorized oil sales could splinter Iraq.

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“The President and Prime Minister discussed the importance of encouraging Baghdad and Erbil to find common ground on energy issues and supporting the agreement they achieve,” the White House said in a read-out of the call.

Obama also vowed to cooperate with Erdoğan on combating the growing terrorist threat in Syria and seeking a political settlement to the almost three-year-old conflict there. And he pressed Erdoğan on the “importance of quickly concluding the normalization agreement with Israel,” which has been in the works since Israel apologized last year for a raid against a flotilla seeking to break the embargo on Gaza that left eight Turks dead in 2010.

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