ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – The US and French leaders discussed the disputes between the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the Iraqi government and agreed that those differences must be resolved through negotiations.
The White House on Monday issued a statement explaining that US President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron had spoken by phone and discussed relations between Erbil and Baghdad.
Macron and Trump “agreed on the need for the Iraqi government and the Kurdistan Regional Government to resolve their differences through dialogue,” the statement said.
Macron on Saturday received a Kurdistan Region delegation led by Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani at the Élysée Palace.
The French President called for national reconciliation and “constructive dialogue” between Erbil and Baghdad to resolve their differences within the framework of the Iraqi constitution.
Macron is the first Western head of state to meet with the Kurdish leadership since the Oct 16 assault on Kirkuk and other disputed areas, carried out by Iraqi security forces, in conjunction with Iranian-backed militias.
France has long-standing ties to the Kurds, dating back to the 1980s and the presidency of Francois Mitterrand.
By contrast, the US has left involvement in any talks between Erbil and Baghdad to relatively low-ranking State Department officials.
The White House statement represented the first time that Trump, himself, has endorsed the need for a peaceful resolution of the disputes between Erbil and Baghdad.
The White House statement also explained that the two leaders had discussed “the path to peace in the Middle East”— i.e. an Arab-Israeli peace, what Trump calls “the ultimate deal.”
Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is leading that effort in coordination with Riyadh, which he visited in late October and where he met Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman.
Kushner, 36, is close to the 32-year old crown prince, as the New York Times reported on Sunday. Two weeks after Kushner’s visit, Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, also traveled to Saudi Arabia and meet with Salman.
Salman presented Abbas a plan for a Palestinian-Israeli settlement that was so favorable to Israel it “alarmed” the Palestinian president, while rumors about it have “roiled the region,” the Times said.
The proposed Palestinian state would consist of “non-contiguous parts of the West Bank,” according to the Times. Most Israeli settlements would remain; East Jerusalem would not be the Palestinians’ capital; and there would be no right of return.
An advisor to the French president told the Times that France has its own concerns about the plan and wanted clarification from Washington.
Following Macron’s discussion with Trump, his office issued a statement, saying that he had “expressed his concern over the possibility that the United States would unilaterally recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.”
Editing by Laurie Mylroie