AMMAN (JT) – Jordan and Iraq have agreed in principle to extend a pipeline to convey crude Iraqi oil to Jordan, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported.

During a meeting between Prime Minister Samir Rifai and his Iraqi counterpart Nouri Maliki on Monday, the two officials also discussed the possibility of future expansion of the project to include Iraqi gas.

Amman and Cairo signed an agreement in 2003 to build a 360-kilometre pipeline from Arish through the Sinai to Aqaba and northwards to the Syrian border for carrying Egyptian gas to Jordan and later to Syria, Lebanon and Turkey.

During Baghdad talks yesterday, the Jordanian side made a request to extend a contract under which the Kingdom receives Iraqi oil and to gradually increase the quantities of supply from 10,000 barrels per day to 30,000. The Iraqi side promised to study the request, Petra said.

Iraq currently provides crude oil to the Kingdom by trucks.

Rifai and Maliki discussed means to exchange information in the fields of gas and oil exploration, including tasking joint committees to come up with an action plan in the field of energy.

They agreed to continue talks through ministerial meetings to look into the steps needed to activate cooperation between the two countries.

Rifai, who yesterday concluded a brief visit to Iraq, renewed Jordan’s stance to support Iraqis and assist them in their development and construction process.

Highlighting the conditions of Iraqis residing in the Kingdom, Rifai reiterated Jordan’s commitment to providing Iraqi guests with all the necessary facilities.

He noted that Jordan has facilitated the entry of Iraqi investors and businesspeople into the Kingdom, where they benefit from “the appropriate infrastructure and legislation environment” to implement and develop their projects.

Rifai highlighted a plan to open a consulate in the northern Iraqi city of Erbil, indicating the studies are under way to open Jordanian consulates in other Iraqi cities to activate cooperation, particularly in the trade, investment and diplomatic fields.

He welcomed the Iraqi presidency of the upcoming Arab summit, slated to be held in Iraq this year.

Rifai and the Iraqi official discussed anti-terrorism efforts and means to develop cooperation in this field.

The officials commended the level of financial and economic cooperation between the two countries, noting that Iraq is considered the largest trade partner for Jordan’s exports.

They also discussed Iraqi debts to the Jordanian private sector and the Central Bank of Jordan and the need to pay the private sector dues in return for services and goods exported to Iraq in the pre-war era.

Talks also covered other issues of cooperation in the fields of land and air transport as well as trade, among others.

The Jordanian and Iraqi side underlined the importance of railway linkage, which is considered a strategic option for both countries and agreed to follow up on the technical committees work to unify studies and mechanisms of implementation.

Regarding cooperation in air transport, Jordan and Iraq agreed to increase the number of flights between the two countries, which currently stands at 30 flights weekly.

Rifai and Maliki discussed mega-projects and the need to start planning for connecting the Jordanian infrastructure to Iraq’s, especially electricity grids and the planned railway, in addition to the envisioned oil and gas pipelines. They also discussed prospects of developing the joint logistics centres in Aqaba.

Both sides also agreed on importance of ratifying the free trade agreement between Amman and Baghdad by the Iraqi side and giving it an urgent status.

The officials agreed to improve Jordan’s role as a centre for training and technical cooperation to support reconstruction efforts in Iraq.

They discussed the possibility of accrediting the Aqaba Port as one of the main ports for Iraqi imports, and agreed to arrange a visit by an Iraqi delegation to the Kingdom to acquaint the private sector with opportunities available for Jordanian construction contractors to be involved in building residential and infrastructure projects in Iraq.