ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – The United Kingdom’s Minister of State for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on Sunday arrived in the Kurdistan Region to discuss the independence referendum and war against the Islamic State (IS) with Kurdish officials.
Alistair Burt, the UK Minister of State for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, was received by the Head of the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) Department of Foreign Affairs Falah Mustafa at the Erbil International Airport.
Following his arrival, Burt told reporters the purpose of his visit was to praise the role of the Peshmerga forces in the fight against IS extremists.
The Kurdish forces were instrumental in their coordination with Iraqi forces during the Tal Afar and Mosul military operations, he added.
“Britain respects the sacrifices of the Peshmerga forces who are fighting terror on behalf of the world,” Burt stated.
“There are good relations between Erbil and London,” the British Minister continued, adding he was visiting “to boost such relations.”
Burt said he would speak to Kurdish officials about the Kurdistan Region’s upcoming independence referendum without providing further details about the UK’s position on the historic event.
“During my stay in the Kurdistan Region, I will discuss the referendum with the Kurdish officials and inform them about the UK’s position on the matter,” he explained, during a press conference in Erbil.
On June 13, the UK officially announced their stance on Kurdistan’s independence referendum set to be held on Sep. 25, stating they support a unified Iraq.
In a statement, British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson disagreed with the Region’s decision to hold a vote for independence and said the timing was an issue.
“A referendum at this time will distract from the more urgent priorities of defeating [IS], stabilizing liberated areas, and addressing the long-term political issues that led to [IS’] rise,” he said.
“We understand the aspirations of the Kurdish people and continue to support them politically, culturally, and economically within Iraq,” Johnson stated.
In recent weeks, Kurdistan Region President Masoud Barzani has reiterated the Region’s stance on the matter and rejected calls to postpone the vote.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany