By John Lee.
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki held talks with ExxonMobil chief Rex Tillerson (pictured) on Monday.
AFP reports that the meeting was the first between the two since the firm signed an oil exploration agreement with Kurdistan in October 2011, a move which angered Baghdad, which has said the company must choose between its deals with Baghdad and Erbil.
Late last year Exxon informed Baghdad that it wanted to sell its stake in the West Qurna-1 project, indicating it would focus on the controversial Kurdish deal.
Maliki appeared to once again rule out the sort of production-sharing deals that Exxon has signed with Kurdistan, arguing that Iraq’s oil “belongs to all Iraqis … Iraqis are partners in the oil that is discovered in any part of Iraq, they cannot be partners in Basra and not partners in other areas“.
Tillerson is said to have expressed Exxon’s keenness to “continue its work and expand in Iraq”, while also apparently mentioning “important decisions in this area” that would be taken, though no further details were provided.