Iraqi govt OKs Kurds crude oil export

BAGHDAD: An Iraqi oil official says Iraq's central government has approved Kurdish plans to start exporting crude oil next month.

Oil Ministry spokesman Assem Jihad told The Associated Press on Sunday that the oil would be marketed by the government-owned State Oil Marketing Organization and shipped through a pipeline to the Turkish Mediterranean port of Ceyhan.

The move could ease tension between the Kurds and central government in Baghdad over contracts between the Kurdish administration and foreign oil companies. The government maintained those contracts were illegal since a federal oil law had yet to be passed.

On Friday, the Kurds said they would start their first-ever crude exports on June 1, but Oil Ministry officials had said the plan was not final.

Christians wave Jordanian and Iraqi flags as they greet Pope Benedict XVI upon his arrival at a football stadium in Amman. The pontiff has hailed the courage of Holy Land Christians, urging them to hold on to their faith and work to counter violence in a region where conflict has forced many thousands to flee.