Iran says border dispute with Iraq was misunderstanding, urges quick resolution

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Iran: Border spat with Iraq was misunderstanding

TEHRAN, Iran — Iran on Tuesday said its recent takeover of an Iraqi oil well was the result of a “misunderstanding” and called for the two nations to open talks to clearly demarcate their border.

The Iranian and Iraqi foreign ministers spoke over the weekend and agreed to re-establish a long-standing joint border committee, said Ramin Mehmanparast, spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry. He said it was critical that the committee immediately get down to work.

“We believe this is a technical issue and experts should review it to prevent such misunderstandings,” he said. “The best solution is to form the committee as soon as possible.”

Iranian forces seized the No. 4 well at the al-Fakkah oil field last Thursday, immediately raising tensions between the uneasy allies, who fought a war from 1980-1988. The Iranians withdrew early Sunday.

It’s not clear why Iran seized the well, which sits about 50 yards (meters) from the border and is not producing oil. Both countries claim parts of the oil field, and the border itself is under dispute in some places, highlighted by Iranian officials who said the No. 4 well was on Iranian soil.

The al-Fakkah well is located about 200 miles (320 kilometers) southeast of Baghdad and has an estimated 1.5 billion barrels in reserves.

Iraqi officials did not immmediately comment on the matter Tuesday. But over the weekend, Iraqi officials confirmed that diplomatic talks about the disputed border would continue.

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