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US extends Iraq's sanctions waiver to import Iranian power for 120 days to help new PM

Highlights

US says extension will support Iraq's new government

Pompeo spoke with new Iraqi PM Khadhimi by phone

Last electricity waiver, for 30 days, was granted April 26

London — The US on Thursday extended Iraq's sanctions waiver for 120 days to import Iranian electricity, as the Trump administration seeks to boost new Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi and provide some stability to the politically fractured nation.

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"In support of the new government the United States will move forward with a 120-day electricity waiver as a display of our desire to help provide the right conditions for success," the US State Department said in a statement, after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke with Kadhimi by phone.

Iraq's parliament early Thursday granted a vote of confidence to Kadhimi's cabinet and most of his chosen ministers, resolving a political crisis that had seen the previous two nominees for prime minister withdraw their candidacies.

The US, which has sought to squeeze Iran by imposing sanctions on its energy exports, has granted Iraq a series of waivers enabling it to maintain electricity imports from its neighbor. But the length of the waivers has been shortened, as the US has pressured Iraq to reduce its dependency on Iraninan energy supplies.

The last waiver, for 30 days, had been granted on April 26.

Iraq is heavily reliant on Iran for electricity and gas supplies due to a lack of infrastructure, and the coming summer months are critical, given the heat and demand for air conditioning.

The country can import up to 1,200 MW/year of electricity and up to about 1.2 Bscf/d during peak summer months, officials have said.