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The Associated Press April 12, 2012, 11:18AM ET

Iraq suggests Exxon deals with Kurds could stand

Iraq's top energy official says the country may be open to letting Exxon Mobil keep some of its disputed oil deals in the self-ruled Kurdish region if they and similar contracts meet Baghdad's approval.

Deputy Prime Minister for Energy Hussain al-Shahristani also told The Associated Press on Thursday that Iraq has received assurances from Exxon it will not begin working in the territory for now to give the federal government and Kurdish officials time "to resolve their differences."

Officials have previously said Exxon had agreed to freeze the Kurdish deals, but did not say what that meant in practice.

Baghdad has threatened to penalize Exxon and potentially blacklist it from future deals over the Kurdish contracts, though no such measures have been taken so far.

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