April 23, 2013 – AFP – BAGHDAD : –  Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has named temporary replacements for the country’s foreign and trade ministers, both of whom are Kurds, a senior government official said on Tuesday.

Kurdish ministers have been boycotting cabinet meetings since early March over disagreements about the federal budget.

Deputy Prime Minister Hussein al-Shahristani is to temporarily replace Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, while Justice Minister Hassan al-Shammari is to take charge from Trade Minister Khayrullah Hassan Babaker, the official said on condition of anonymity. The autonomous Kurdistan region and the federal government in Baghdad are at odds over issues including a swathe of disputed territory in north Iraq, oil contracts the region has signed without Baghdad’s approval, and power-sharing. The federal government regards all oil deals that did not go through the national oil ministry as illegal, while Kurdistan says that Baghdad has failed to pay money owed to foreign oil firms operating in the region.