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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 18 December 2018

Davos 2018: Iraq's reconstruction may cost $100 billion, says Abadi

Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, the Iraqi Prime Minister, also suggested that the ongoing dispute between Baghdad and Erbil were nearing an end

Haidar Al Abadi, Prime Minister of Iraq capture during the Session: A Conversation with Haider Al Abadi, Prime Minister of Iraq at the Annual Meeting 2018 of the World Economic Forum in Davos, January 25, 2018.
Copyright by World Economic Forum / Sikarin Thanachaiary
Haidar Al Abadi, Prime Minister of Iraq capture during the Session: A Conversation with Haider Al Abadi, Prime Minister of Iraq at the Annual Meeting 2018 of the World Economic Forum in Davos, January 25, 2018. Copyright by World Economic Forum / Sikarin Thanachaiary

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al Abadi has said that Iraq’s reconstruction may cost up to $100 billion and tied the future growth plans to efforts to reassert the Iraqi constitution as the foundation of rebuilding ties between Baghdad and Erbil.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Al Abadi told the global gathering that at least US$45bn was needed for reconstruction of Iraq following the battle against Isil, and that the figure could be “up to $100bn”.

He said and that the “[upcoming] Kuwait conference will present opportunities for regional investors to take part in the reconstruction of Iraq”.

“We succeeded in fighting terrorism we will succeed in reconstruction.”

Dr Al Abadi also met with Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government Nechirvan Barzani on the side-lines of the conference, in a sign that the two are coming close to ending their stifling dispute.

The two held talks regarding the reopening of the lifting of an international flight ban imposed on the Kurdish region’s airports. A diplomatic source told The National that "talks in Davos were successful".

Barzani described the meeting as “important” and that the two had vowed to meet again next week. “During the meeting in Davos, both sides stressed commitment to resolving their outstanding issues, especially on oil revenue sharing and the international flight ban imposed on the autonomous region,” the KRG said.

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Al Abadi used the stage to warn regional powers such as Iran and regional powers against settling their disputes in Iraq “I was frank to tell both that you need to keep your differences away from the country. Our aim is to stabilise the country. We succeeded in fighting terrorism we will succeed in reconstruction.”

Addressing the Iran Nuclear deal, Al Abadi said: “it is very important to keep it intact. Any claim between the US and Iran, any conflict is bad for Iraq. The nuclear deal is beyond us but good relations between them is important. Through the cracks Daesh was able to come through. We don’t want any more polarization. It is bad for all of us in the region.”

Al Abadi also spoke on the distribution of Iraq’s energy revenues, a major issue of dispute between Baghdad and Erbil in recent years. “We want to be fair to all of Iraq”.

He insisted that Iraq would help maintain stable crude oil prices, by not exceeding OPEC production limits. “We have to stick to that agreement to keep prices under control.”

Al Abadi seemed unperturbed by Shell’s recent exit from Iraqi oil production. “I just met Shell’s chairman and they have committed more to gas than oil. We need gas in the next four years and Shell is looking in that direction.” Adding that there were “huge estimates” for gas in Iraq, and that both oil and gas were important for the country.

Relations between the Baghdad and Erbil government have been especially strained since the Kurdish Independence Referendum last year, but Al Abadi was optimistic that many of the issues of contention were being solved.

Reasserting the Iraqi constitution would be the focus of moving forward, and rebuilding ties between Baghdad and Erbil, he said. The division of oil revenues and budget issues have been resolved because Erbil had agreed to pass on all oil revenue to Baghdad, and that the budget issues had been resolved. “Budget allocation for [the] Kurdish region will be based on population and other factors to ensure fairness.”

While at the Swiss resort the Iraqi prime minister held talks with King Abdullah II of Jordan, his Lebanese counterpart Saad Hariri as well as British leader Theresa May, German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, German Defence Minister, Ursula von der Leyen.