Baghdad and Erbil move closer to ending crisis

Officials hold talks for the second time since Kurds' independence referendum

German Chancellor Angela Merkel meets Iraq's Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi during the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland January 24, 2018.     Bundesregierung/Guido Bergmann/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVE.
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Iraq and the autonomous Kurdistan region are closer to ending their bitter dispute after Prime Minister Haider Al Abadi met with Kurdish counterpart Nechirvan Barzani in Davos.

The officials held talks late Wednesday for the second time since the Kurdistan Regional Government held an independence vote  condemned by Baghdad.

Talks in Davos reiterated the conclusion of Mr Al Abadi’s first meeting with Kurdish officials, the prime minister's office said. Earlier this month, the two sides reached an initial agreement to lift an international flight ban imposed on the autonomous Kurdish region by Baghdad.

Mr Al Abadi stressed that Iraqi Kurdistan's airports would reopen once Baghdad was given "complete control" over them and that "the control of border crossings should be exclusively in the power of federal authority”.

A diplomatic source told The National that "talks in Davos were successful".

"During the meeting in Davos, both sides stressed commitment to resolving their outstanding issues, especially on oil revenue sharing and the international flight ban imposed on the autonomous region," the KRG said.

The officials agreed that a meeting between the Iraqi Oil Ministry and the KRG Ministry of Natural Resources is vital to reaching an agreement on exporting oil so that suspended operations in the country's northern region can resume.

Since the fall of former dictator Saddam Hussein, the two sides have bickered over land and oil revenue sharing.