ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – President of the Kurdistan Region Masoud Barzani on Thursday said he intends to visit Egypt in the future, highlighting the role of the country in the region.
“Egypt is held in high esteem and plays a leading role in the region. We are always working on strengthening bilateral relations with the country and his Excellency Abdel Fatah al-Sisi,” Barzani affirmed during an interview with the Egyptian newspaper al-Ahram.
The Kurdish President did not specify the date but communicated his intention to visit Egypt in the near future.
“Our relationship with Cairo is historical. In 1958, Mustafa Barzani [the late Kurdish nationalist leader] returned from Moscow to Baghdad via Cairo and met with the Egyptian Leader at that time, Jamal Abdul Nasser,” he said.
The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) is planning to hold a referendum on the Kurdistan Region independence on Sep. 25, 2017.
In the interview, Barzani also expanded on the KRG’s relations with Turkey, stating trade and economic ties between Erbil and Ankara are "robust."
“Our Turkish friends are well aware of the importance of the Kurdistan Region, so they have always been with us and continue to invest billions of dollars in Kurdistan. They are good partners, involved in many of our projects,” Barzani said.
Senior Kurdish officials have insisted on holding the referendum despite the opposition of certain neighboring countries.
He also mentioned that the KRG’s relationship with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is at a "positive stage," calling on Ankara to continue developing ties with the KRG.
Barzani also discussed Baghdad's role in the collapse of the partnership between the KRG and the federal government of Iraq, stating Baghdad officials have violated the Constitution of Iraq, especially regarding Kurdish rights and federalism.
“We failed as partners. Let’s be good neighbors instead,” he added.
Regarding the KRG’s relationship with Saudi Arabia, Barzani noted that the Kurdish government enjoys "strong ties with the people, government, and king of Saudi Arabia.”
Commenting on Erbil’s relations with Tehran, Barzani stated, “We will not forget their position and help during the days of Da’esh [Islamic State (IS)] attacks on the Kurdistan Region. They were the first to actually support us and stood by us.”
Kurdish officials have repeatedly mentioned that an independent Kurdistan is not a threat to anyone, but rather will bring stability and security to the region.
Editing by G.H. Renaud