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French Version

Iraq eyes renewed oil exports via Lebanon after 20-year break

Disused pipeline would be activated
Allawi will travel to the Gulf Tuesday, to visit Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAE


Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi in Lebanon Monday raised the prospect of resuming oil exports via Lebanon through a pipeline disused since 1980, as part of increased ties with Arab states in the energy sector.

"Iraq is ready to resume its crude exports via Lebanon but this needs negotiation and an accord with Syria because the pipeline passes through its territory," Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri said after talks with Allawi.

The Iraqi premier, confirming the offer, told reporters that he discussed oil and gas cooperation in Damascus on the previous stop of his Middle East tour.

The Syrian government daily Tishrin said Sunday a barter agreement was signed during the visit. Under the accord Syria is to supply kerosene, benzine and liquefied gas in exchange for Iraqi crude, it said.

Up until 1980, when ties between the two neighbors were broken because of Syria's support for Tehran during the Iran-Iraq war that erupted the same year, Iraqi crude flowed through Syria to the Tripoli refinery in northern Lebanon.

But the pipeline and operations at a terminal operated by the former Iraq Petroleum Company were both halted.

In April 2003, US-led coalition forces invading Iraq shut down a pipeline which had been used since the late 1990s to export Iraqi crude to Syria without UN authorization despite international sanctions on Baghdad.

Allawi also said his country was prepared to take part in a gas project between Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria that was sealed in 2002 to supply the Arab states with Egyptian liquefied natural gas.

Beirut cut its relations with Baghdad after the 1994 assassination in Beirut of an opponent of Saddam Hussein's regime, but diplomatic and commercial ties were resumed in 1997 after a rapprochement between Iraq and Syria.

Allawi was expected to end his visit to Lebanon early Tuesday when he is due to travel on to Saudi Arabia before heading to Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.

Beirut,07 27 2004
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The Daily Star
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