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Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki believes a contract between US oil giant ExxonMobil and Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan region is dangerous and could lead to wars, his spokesman said on Tuesday.

ExxonMobil signed an oil exploration deal with the Kurdistan region in northern Iraq covering six areas, including two that are said to be outside the region and claimed by both Baghdad and Kurdistan.

The central government says all oil contracts must go through Baghdad and regards any that do not as illegal.

“Maliki views these deals as representing a very dangerous initiative that may lead to the outbreak of wars” and “breaking up the unity of Iraq,” Ali Mussawi said of the Kurdistan contract.

“Maliki is prepared to go to the highest levels for the sake of preserving the national wealth and the necessary transparency in investing the wealth of the Iraqis, especially oil,” Mussawi said.

The premier “sent a message to American President Barak Obama last week urging him to intervene to prevent ExxonMobil from going in this direction.” Exxon and Kurdistan inked the exploration deal on October 18. Baghdad has since said the deal is frozen, which Kurdistan has denied.

Iraqi Kurdistan has been locked in a standoff with Baghdad for months, one of a series of intertwined political crises which have escalated into calls for Maliki to be removed from power.

Gulf News

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