Iraq has asked Kuwait to agree to defer debt payments to help Baghdad overcome squeezed finances resulting from the oil price slump and the cost of fighting ISIS, Finance Minister Hoshyar Zebari tells MEES. The federal government also plans to delay introduction of the $5/B petrodollar payment to oil-producing provinces.

Mr Zebari says Iraq expects to post a “huge” deficit of ID 30 trillion ($27bn) this year but hopes to cut the deficit in the 2015 budget, which is due to be presented to parliament within days. “We are reaching out to the Kuwaitis to defer the compensation payments for a year or so. That will give us some space,” he said by telephone from Baghdad. The amount outstanding is $4.6bn, he adds. (CONTINUED - 1888 WORDS)