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Premier due in Baghdad next week to discuss security, energy files

By Khetam Malkawi - Dec 11,2014 - Last updated at Dec 11,2014

AMMAN — An official source on Thursday said that military cooperation between Jordan and Iraq will continue, noting it will be on the agenda of an upcoming visit by Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour to Baghdad. 

“We have already trained Iraqi soldiers and our military capabilities are at their disposal whenever they ask for it,” the source noted.

Meanwhile, Jordan Armed Forces-Arab Army (JAF) Spokesperson Colonel Mamdoh Al-Ameri said that Jordan would not hesitate to train Iraqi soldiers if it is officially asked to. 

In a statement to The Jordan Times, Ameri said if the Kingdom receives an official request from Iraq, it would respond positively, whether the training would take place on Iraqi or Jordanian territory.

The officials’ remarks came in response to a question on whether the Kingdom is sending troops to Iraq as part of the 1,500 troops that the US allies will send to Iraq to help train and advise Iraqi and Kurdish soldiers battling the Islamic State (IS), as announced by Lieutenant General James Terry, commander of Operation Inherent Resolve targeting militants in Iraq and Syria, early this week.

Meanwhile, the government source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told The Jordan Times that the prime minister and a government delegation are due in Baghdad next week to discuss bilateral relations with their Iraqi counterparts, with focus on security and energy issues.

The source said military cooperation is continuous between Amman and Baghdad, and it will be further discussed in the scheduled meetings.

“We always support Iraq in its efforts to fight terrorism and always support Iraq’s unity,” the source explained, as Jordan is a member of the regional coalition to fight terrorism.

“The discussions will focus on the Basra-Aqaba oil pipeline project and progress achieved so far in this project,” he said, adding that tenders will be floated soon for the implementation of the $18 billion pipeline through which Iraq will export crude oil from Basra to Aqaba.

The 1,680-kilometre double pipeline will pump one million barrels of oil a day from Basra on the Arabian Gulf to Aqaba Port on the Red Sea, in addition to around 258 million cubic feet of gas. 

The Basra-Aqaba oil pipeline, which is expected to be operational late in 2017, will provide Jordan with 150,000 barrels of oil per day, while the rest will be exported through Aqaba, generating an estimated $3 billion a year in revenues for the Kingdom. 

The source also noted that another issue of importance to be discussed with the Iraqi government is trade.

In light of the current security situation, where terrorist groups are taking control of lands in western Iraq, the two governments will discuss the possibility of having Iraqi trucks unload in the Iraqi territory across the border to be laden on Jordanian trucks and vise versa, according to the source.

This proposal seeks to improve the land cargo shipment between the two neighbours, which has witnessed a slump following the recent security concerns and the control of IS on some bordering areas between the two countries.

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