Iraq, Iran ink energy sector agreement

Iraq and Iran have agreed to continue cooperation in the energy and electricity sectors, despite time ticking down on the US waiver of sanctions.

Iran’s Energy Minister Reza Ardakanian was in Baghdad for two days of talks with Iraq’s Electricity Minister Luay al-Khatteeb, Oil Minister Thamer al-Ghadhban, and Governor of the Central Bank Ali al-Alaq.

Iraq’s electricity grid is dependent on imports from Iran – natural gas to fuel domestic generators and up to 1,300 megawatts of Iranian-produced electricity.

Ardakanian pledged Iran will continue to supply its neighbour with electricity and natural gas through next summer, according to Iraq’s Ministry of Electricity.

The two signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Thursday for a “long-term framework” for cooperation in the energy sector and rebuilding Iraq’s struggling electrical grid, IRNA reported.

The memorandum includes a series of agreements to develop and expand cooperation in the energy sector, including the exchange of expertise in production, transportation, and distribution of electricity, as well as continued imports of power and gas, according to Baghdad Today.

Last week, the United States granted Iraq a 90-day extension on its exemption from sanctions on Iran, giving Baghdad more time to wean itself off Iran’s supplies.

The agreement signed with Iran comes as Baghdad is fuming over a visit by US President Donald Trump.

Trump made a quick visit to al-Asad airbase west of Baghdad, but a planned meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi was cancelled due to “a divergence in views on how to organize the meeting,” the Iraqi leader’s office stated.

The two spoke over the phone, instead.

Rumours are that Trump wanted Abdul-Mahdi to meet him at the airbase, a request the prime minister declined.

Iraqi leaders have condemned Trump’s perceived brushoff of the Iraqi leadership on Iraqi soil.

“Dealing with Iraq and its sovereignty in this way will harm Iraqi-US relations,” said former prime minister Haider al-Abadi. Source