Iraq confirmed on Monday, April 16, its willingness to sell crude oil to Lebanon at preferential prices, in an agreement similar to one concluded between Baghdad and Amman. "Iraq has offered to provide Lebanon with crude (oil) at reduced prices," said parliament speaker Saadun Hammadi during a visit by a Lebanese parliamentary delegation to the Iraqi capital.
Hammadi added that Baghdad was "ready to grant Beirut credit to pay its oil bill." Regional economic experts speculated that Iraq had offered Lebanon the oil at prices 20 percent below the current market rate. Iraq will provide Jordan with five million tons of crude oil this year, half of it for free and the rest at cut-rate prices.
Skaff, president of Lebanon's parliamentary commission for economic and trade affairs, arrived in Baghdad on Sunday. He said his country was "ready to cooperate with Iraq." "We bring all our support to Iraq and to its people, we call for the lifting of the embargo and we would like to reinforce our economic ties with the Iraqis," the Lebanese deputy said.
Hammadi called for the establishment of a free trade zone with Lebanon. He also said Baghdad had also offered to help Beirut pay for repairs to the pipeline linking Iraqi oilfields to refineries in the northern Lebanese town of Tripoli. "We are waiting for Lebanon's response," the Iraqi speaker said. Trade between the two countries reached a height of $370 million in recent years, according to Baghdad. —(AFP)
© Agence France Presse 2001
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)