US energy chief urges Iraq to wean itself off Iranian oil
US Energy Secretary Rick Perry has urged Iraq to reduce its energy dependence on Iran and open its energy sector to American investment instead.
Perry met with top Iraqi officials in Baghdad and in the Kurdish region on Tuesday to discuss US investment in Iraq.
"The time has come for Iraq to break its dependence on others and move forward toward true energy independence," said Perry.
Iraq is caught in a delicate position as it continues to draw on neighbouring Iran's gas and electricity despite renewed US sanctions against Iran's energy sector.
US sanctions began on Iran in May, when the US pulled out of a landmark 2015 nuclear agreement with Tehran. A tougher set of sanctions targeting Iran's oil industry was enforced in November, aimed at economically crippling Tehran.
While targeting buyers of Iranian oil with the sanctions, Washington granted Iraq a 45-day waiver, but Iraqi officials say they need more time to find an alternative source.
Iraq's own energy sector cannot produce enough electricity to power meet domestic demand and has experienced protests and unrest across the country due to shortages and inadequate services.
Perry said the US and its business community were prepared to help Iraq develop its own energy sector.