U.S. Vice President Joe Biden traveled to Iraqi Kurdistan Thursday
to press Kurdish leaders to compromise on the controversial issue of
sharing Iraq's oil wealth.
Biden met with Iraqi President Jalal
Talabani and the president of the semi-autonomous Kurdish region,
Massoud Barzani, in the regional capital of Irbil.
joint news conference with Mr. Barzani, Biden said he believes the
Kurdish leader is negotiating in good faith with the central government
to resolve all outstanding issues.
The Kurds have been locked in
bitter disagreement with Baghdad over control of oil and disputed
territory in parts of northern Iraq, particularly the oil-rich region
Mr. Barzani repeated the Kurds' commitment to solve all problems within the framework of the Iraqi constitution.
tensions have stalled passage of a hydrocarbon law that would define
oil revenue sharing and clarify rules for foreign firms investing in
Iraq's oil and gas fields.
Biden told leaders of Iraq's central
government in Baghdad Wednesday that passage of the law is in Iraq's
best interest. A senior U.S. official said Biden also made clear that
the next round of bidding on oil concessions should be made on more
generous terms to attract more outside interest.
official said that only one of eight deals up for bidding earlier this
year was taken. He said that even one other deal would mean $50
billion to $60 billion in additional investment in Iraq, $600 million
in additional annual revenue, and tens of thousands of new jobs.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.