ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – A Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) delegation led by Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani on Friday arrived in Paris to meet with French President Emmanuel Macron.
Barzani was officially invited by Macron—according to the KRG’s press office—in what was his first visit abroad since the Sep. 25 independence referendum.
Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani, Chief of Staff to the Kurdistan Region Presidency Fuad Hussein, and KRG Spokesperson Safeen Dizayee accompanied Barzani on his visit to the French capital.
The Kurdish delegation is expected to discuss the recent tensions between Erbil and Baghdad, as well as de-escalation efforts, with Macron on Sunday.
The Kurdistan Region and France have shared historical ties as France has often supported the people of Kurdistan throughout different stages in history.
Late French President Francois Mitterrand played a significant role in the United Nations Security Council Resolution 688 in 1991, leading to the establishment of a no-fly zone to protect the Kurdistan Region from former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s attacks.
France is also one of the members of the US-led coalition, and have actively engaged and supported the Region in the fight against the Islamic State (IS).
Former French President Francois Hollande visited Kurdistan twice during his tenure, becoming the first European President to visit Kurdistan.
Ties between Erbil and Baghdad have considerably deteriorated since the Kurdistan Region’s independence referendum.
As a show of good faith, the KRG offered to freeze the results of the referendum, but Baghdad refused, demanding a full annulment instead.
Since the plebiscite, Baghdad has launched collective punitive measures against Kurdistan, including the use of military force to control Kirkuk Province and other disputed territories.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany