Iraq to cooperate with Kurds to liberate Nineveh province from IS: PM

April 7, 2015 5:20 am 

BAGHDAD, April 6 — Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said Monday the Iraqi federal forces will work with the Kurdish regional forces to liberate the northern province of Nineveh from the Islamic State (IS) militants.

"Our visit in Arbil is to cooperate and coordinate on a joint plan to liberate the people of Nineveh," Abadi told a joint press conference with the regional President Masoud Barzani during Abadi' s official visit to Arbil, the capital of the Kurdish region.

"We have common agreements and understandings that liberating Nineveh is the responsibility of all of us," Abadi said after his meeting with Barzani.

"There is a time frame to liberate Nineveh province from Daash (IS militant group), but we want to keep the element of surprise," Abadi said, adding that there are connections with some people of Nineveh who want to cooperate with the security forces to get rid of IS extremist group.

For his part, Barzani said that the Kurdish authorities have formed a committee of joint operation with Baghdad to liberate Nineveh, but "we are waiting for the start of the offensive."

Earlier in the day, Abadi accompanied by a military and administrative delegation arrived in Arbil, some 350 km north of the Iraqi capital of Bagdad, with the aim of discussing the important issues with the Kurdish officials, including liberation of Nineveh province and the problem of displaced people, as well as the pending issues between Baghdad and the region.

The cooperation between Baghdad central government and the semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan came despite the disputes over oil exports and budget payments.

When asked about the budget payments to the region, Abadi said "the budget is not enough for all, the region and all the provinces, and the government departments too are not satisfied with their budget."

However, Abadi argued that "the region is receiving its budget with the accordance of the approved (annual) budget."

Late last year, Abadi's government made significant progress when it reached an agreement with the Kurdish regional government over oil exports and budget payments.

The agreement stated that the Kurdish region exports 250,000 crude oil barrels per day (bpd) from Kurdistan oil fields and 300, 000 bpd from Iraq's Kirkuk oil fields under the control of the State Organization for Marketing of Oil (SOMO) via Turkey's port of Ceyhan on the Mediterranean Sea.

In return, Baghdad's federal government pledged to pay 17 percent of the national budget to the Kurdish regional government.

The oil deal was seen as an important achievement for Abadi and his government, particularly, both Baghdad and the Kurdish region have been fighting the Islamic State (IS) extremist group which seized large areas in the country since June. (PNA/Xinhua)

LAM/EDS

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