Baghdad, Iraq The Iraqi Cabinet approved a draft law Monday to manage the country's vast oil industry and distribute its wealth among the population - a major breakthrough in U.S. efforts to press the country's Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish groups to reach agreements to achieve stability.
Parliament will take up the measure when it reconvenes early next month after a recess. With all major parties endorsing the bill, approval is likely - although some politicians predicted a vigorous debate on some of the details.
Many Iraqis fear the measure will effectively hand the country's major natural resources over to foreign oil companies. Supporters say that oil giants have the billions of dollars needed to upgrade the country's decrepit wells, pipelines and port.
Iraq has some of the world's largest petroleum reserves, and supporters hope the legislation will encourage major oil companies to invest billions - if the security situation improves.
However, the bill had been bogged down for months in infighting between Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's Shiite-led government and the self-ruled Kurdish administration of northern Iraq over who had the final say in negotiating contracts and managing the revenues.