Iraqi PM to discuss energy deals during first official visit to EU

Iraq's prime minister will travel to Brussels later this week for his first official visit to discuss relations with the European Union, especially in the energy field, a government spokesman said Sunday. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki will lead a delegation to the Belgian capital on Wednesday for a two-day visit aimed at enhancing political, security, military and economic relations, spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said. The meetings "will also be about an Iraqi-European understanding in the field of energy, especially in the gas field," al-Dabbagh said at a joint news conference with US military spokesman Rear Adm. Patrick Driscoll. Early this year, the Iraqi Oil Ministry said it was negotiating with Royal Dutch Shell PLC to conduct output tests on Akkas gas field, a prized natural gas field in western Iraq. Iraq has the world's third-largest oil reserves with an estimated 115 billion barrels, and sits on an estimated 112 trillion cubic feet of natural gas reserves.