Iraq signed an agreement Friday to provide Jordan with five million tones of oil at 20 dollars a barrel in 2001, Jordan's Prime Minister Ali Abu Ragheb said.
"An oil agreement was signed Friday morning between the Iraqi and Jordanian parties, stipulating the sale of four million tones of oil and one million tones of oil products to Amman," Abu Ragheb told reporters.
"These quantities respond to the needs of Jordan," Abu Ragheb said, adding that the two sides had agreed on a preferential rate of 20 dollars a barrel of oil.
"Baghdad and Amman have signed a second agreement for the construction of an oil pipeline", 750 kilometres (450 miles) long to connect the Iraqi city of Haditha with a refinery near Amman, he added.
The project is expected to cost around 350 million dollars. Until now Iraqi oil has been sent to Jordan in tanker trucks.
Iraqi Oil Minister Amer Rashid said "the capacity of the pipeline to be built will have to respond to the needs of the Zarkah refinery".
"A consulting firm is soon to prepare the documents necessary to offer tenders to foreign companies for the construction of the pipeline," Rashid told journalists, estimating the cost of construction at "between 160 and 200 million dollars".
Jordan depends on Iraq for all its oil and under a UN-approved agreement for 2000 is currently importing 4.8 million tones of Iraqi crude at preferential rates in exchange for 300 million dollars worth of goods to be exported.
Abu Ragheb, who left Iraq Friday after a three-day visit during which he became the first Arab head of government to visit Baghdad since the 1991 Gulf War, added that a third agreement had been signed focusing on commercial trade.
Jordan was one of the few Arab countries sympathetic to Baghdad during the 1991 Gulf conflict, but relations plummeted in the mid-1990s as Jordan, which also has good ties with the United States, hosted Iraqi dissidents on its soil.
Relations have been improving since July, when Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan visited Amman.
Last month Abu Ragheb called on British insurers Lloyd's to halt its inspections of Iraq-bound imports at the Jordanian port of Aqaba, in a decision hailed by Baghdad.
On September 27 Jordan became the first Arab country to defy the 10-year-old UN air ban imposed on Iraq when it flew a humanitarian plane to Baghdad.
Iraq wants commercial airlines to resume regular service between Baghdad and Amman, arguing that no UN resolution prohibits such flights.
Jordan filed an official request to the UN in September for a resumption of Baghdad-Amman flights.--AFP
© 2000 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)