Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zangeneh and his Iraqi counterpart Ihsan Abdul Jabbar discussed ways to promote cooperation between the two neighbors in the oil industry.
In a telephone conversation, Zangeneh and Abdul Jabbar called for the expansion of oil cooperation between the two Muslim neighbors.
The Iranian minister congratulated Abdul Jabbar on taking office as the new oil minister of Iraq after formation of a new government under Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi's leadership, according to the Iranian government's official website.
Abdul Jabbar said Iraq's daily export of crude in June has reached 2.8 million barrels.
The Iraqi oil minister also emphasized that it would be in Iraq's interests to abide by a production cut agreement between OPEC and its allies, known as OPEC+, saying the Iraqi Kurdistan Region has been directed to comply with the OPEC+ deal and cut its share of oil output.
The OPEC members, Russia and other oil producing nations agreed in April to cut output by around 10% of global supply to support oil prices amid the coronavirus pandemic.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (pictured) has welcomed the formation of a new government in Iraq following months of instability.
In a phone call with the new Prime Minister, Mustafa Kadhemi, he said that the US would not enforce sanctions on Iraq buying electricity from Iran for 120 days "as a display of our desire to help provide the right conditions for success".
The full statement via Spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said:
"Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo spoke today with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi. Secretary Pompeo welcomed Prime Minister Kadhimi's new government, which was confirmed by the Council of Representatives.
"They discussed the urgent hard work ahead for the Iraqi government, implementing reforms, addressing COVID-19, and fighting corruption. In support of the new government the United States will move forward with a 120-day electricity waiver as a display of our desire to help provide the right conditions for success.
"The Secretary and the Prime Minister also discussed the upcoming U.S.-Iraq strategic dialogue and how they look forward to working together to provide the Iraqi people the prosperity and security they deserve."
Washington has renewed a waiver for Iraq to continue importing Iranian electricity, a US State Department official said.
"The Secretary granted this brief extension of the waiver to allow time for the formation of a credible government," the official said, referring to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and added that the waiver would expire on May 26, according to Reuters.
Washington has repeatedly extended the exemption for Baghdad to use crucial Iranian energy supplies for its power grid, for periods of 90 or 120 days.
Earlier this month, Iraq's president named intelligence chief Mustafa al-Kadhimi as prime minister-designate, the third person tapped to lead Iraq in just 10 weeks as it struggles to replace a government that fell last year after months of deadly protests.
"Once that government is in place, the Secretary will reassess whether to renew the waiver and for how long," the US State Department official said.
The official added that the waiver applied only to electricity and referred to the Treasury Department for transactions related to Iranian natural gas imports.
Electricity Minister Luay al-Khatteeb told S&P Global Platts last week that Iraq needs three to four years to complete projects that would provide the necessary natural gas for its power stations.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and his Iraqi counterpart, Mohamed Ali al-Hakim, stressed the need for joint measures to combat the new coronavirus, known as COVID-19.
In a telephone conversation on Monday night, Zarif and Hakim exchanged views about a host of topics, including the latest developments in the region as well as ways to boost bilateral relations between Tehran and Baghdad.
The two sides also discussed the coronavirus epidemic and stressed the need for joint measures to contain the spread of the infectious disease.
According to Iran's Health Ministry, the death toll from the COVID-19 outbreak in Iran rose to 66 on Monday, with the confirmed cases of infection surpassing 1,500.
The ministry said out of 7,280 people who have gone to medical centers across the country so far, 4,312 are suspicious cases.
Medical staffs in 20 provinces of Iran have been working tirelessly over the past days to contain the novel coronavirus that has originated from China.
Following the increase of coronavirus increase, the Iranian government ordered the shutting of schools and universities and a ban on concerts and sports events.
Several high-ranking officials, including the deputy health minister and five lawmakers, have tested positive for the coronavirus as the spread of the outbreak forced the government to call on people to stay at home.
By Bryant Harris for Al Monitor. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.
Iraq likely to continue importing Iranian natural gas under US waiver renewal
Iraqi officials have indicated that the United States is likely to renew a key Iran sanctions waiver that will allow Baghdad to continue importing Iranian natural gas to fuel its electricity needs, the AP reported.
The three-month waiver is set to expire Thursday.
Iraq relies on Iranian imports to meet the lion’s share of its electricity needs in the face of shortages that have helped provoke widespread protests in recent years.