In addition to the dispute over development oil resources, the Kurds and the central government in Baghdad have been in a long-running dispute over lands claimed by the Kurds and power-sharing. Along with Sunni Arabs, the Kurds accuse the country's Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki of consolidating power in his hands and marginalizing political opponents.
Separately, Iraq and neighboring Jordan have agreed to speed efforts to build a pipeline to export Iraqi oil through the Jordanian Red Sea port of Aqaba, according to Jordan's Petra news agency.
The deal calls for an oil pipeline that would have a capacity to export one million barrels a day, according to the news agency and al-Maliki's office. The two sides signed an economic cooperation agreement that includes the pipeline project during a brief visit by al-Maliki to Jordan on Monday.
They also agreed to boost the capacity of a natural gas pipeline to supply Jordan with additional Iraqi gas. In addition, Iraq said it could raise the amount of crude oil it exports for Jordanian domestic use, and will double to 60,000 tons the amount of heavy fuel it exports to Jordan monthly, according to Petra.
Violent demonstrations broke out in Jordan last month after the government removed subsidies to offset $5 billion in losses from a rising fuel bill. Heating and cooking gas prices have jumped sharply since. To help, al-Maliki's Shiite-led government last month announced a one-time gift of 100,000 barrels of oil to Sunni Muslim Jordan.
Associated Press writer Adam Schreck contributed to this report.
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