Sunday, December 20, 2009

Iranian Troops Leave Disputed Iraqi Oil Field After ‘Violation’

By Kadhim Ajrash and Zahraa Alkhalisi

Dec. 20 (Bloomberg) -- Iranian troops withdrew from a disputed Iraqi oil well in East Maysan after an armed confrontation at the deposit, Iraqi government officials said.

The Iranian forces left the al-Fakah well last night, Iraq’s deputy minister of oil Abdul Kareem Al-Luaibi told reporters in Baghdad today. Iranian control of the well was “a violation of the Iraqi border,” Al-Luaibi said. “The issue at the al-Fakah well was resolved diplomatically.”

The Iranian flag has been removed from the well, though Iranian soldiers remain in Iraqi territory, Ali Al-Dabbagh, an Iraqi government spokesman, said in comments on Iraqi television and to reporters in Cairo today. Iranian tanks entered the area on Dec. 17, triggering the dispute with its neighbor that drove up oil prices. Iran has said the well is on its territory.

Clashes between the two countries over disputed oil fields near the border have occurred previously, caused by “the lack of a formally demarcated border between the two countries,” Stratfor, an Austin, Texas-based intelligence-consulting group, said in an e-mailed statement Dec. 18.

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