Last updated: 15 July, 2011

Iraq says Kuwait began port project unilaterally

Iraq’s Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said on Friday that Kuwait never officially informed Baghdad about a controversial port project, which his country says must be stopped.

Baghdad alleges that the neighbouring emirate’s Mubarak megaport will hinder Iraq’s access to shipping lanes.

“The astonishing thing about the Mubarak port is that the Kuwaiti side never mentioned it during our long discussions” over many outstanding issues, Maliki said in a statement from his office.

“Iraq only learned about it from third parties.”

Maliki was reacting to remarks by a senior Kuwaiti official that Baghdad had been informed in advance about the project, his office said.

Earlier this month, Iraqi Transportation Minister Hadi al-Amari said Kuwait must stop work on the Mubarak port because it will block Iraqi access to shipping lanes.

Kuwait began work on the $1.1 billion (778 million euros) port in May. The facility, on Kuwait’s Bubyan Island, is scheduled for completion in 2016.

The Gulf is the main export outlet for Iraqi oil, which accounts for the lion’s share of the country’s revenues, and Baghdad has started major work to modernise its outdated ports.