"After new Iraqi Prime Minister [Adel Abdul Mahdi] was elected [in October 2018], relations between Baghdad and Erbil changed a lot. [Kurdistan Regional Government's Prime Minister Nechirvan] Barzani's trip to Baghdad changed everything after their frank talks. Iraq now allocates a budget to Kurdistan; wages are being paid regularly to officials. This has resuscitated Kurdistan's economy. The agreement between Baghdad and Erbil works well", Babakr said.
These developments come after bilateral relations significantly deteriorated in 2017, when the region held a referendum in a bid to secede from Iraq. Baghdad declared the referendum illegitimate and launched a military operation in the region, notably capturing the capital of the oil-rich northern province of Kirkuk.
Babakr also addressed the plans to increase oil production at the Kirkuk oil field up to 600,000 barrels per day (bpd).
"We plan oil production in Kirkuk to increase even further, up to 600,000 [bpd]. Back in the day, the norm was 500,000 barrels per day", he said.
The official expressed hope that Iraq would receive waivers from the OPEC-non-OPEC deal in order to boost its oil production.
"Iraq is OPEC's member and tries to comply with the agreement. But we see that Iran decreases production. Who will take its place? Probably Iraq will be given the opportunity because the country still has to recover its economy, destroyed cities. That's the way I see it", Babakr added.
Oil exports from the Kirkuk oil field were disrupted after the Iraqi military carried out an operation in the area and took control of Kirkuk in the fall of 2017 in response to Iraqi Kurdistan's independence referendum.
* Daesh (ISIL/ISIS/IS/Islamic State) is a terrorist organisation banned in Russia