ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – A Lebanese business delegation led by Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil arrived in the capital of the Kurdistan Region on Tuesday to meet with senior Kurdish officials and discuss ways to strengthen bilateral and economic ties.
The delegation’s visit came after their meetings with Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi and Parliament Speaker Mohammed al-Halbousi in Baghdad.
The purpose of their visit to Erbil is to discuss bilateral relations between Lebanon and the Kurdistan Region as well as to develop economic ties, Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) spokesperson Safeen Dizayee said.
Over the past decade, Lebanese companies and employees have played an important role in all sectors of the Kurdistan Region, he noted, adding the opening of a Lebanese consulate in Erbil could be addressed in the meetings as Lebanon’s economic activities may require a consulate to facilitate its work.
“We hope they open a consulate in the Kurdistan Region because in the past they have been active in the region,” Dizayee responded to Kurdistan 24 during a press conference.
“The KRG will welcome their decision if they decide to open the consulate.”
Following the delegation’s arrival, they met with Masoud Barzani, the former President of the Kurdistan Region and the current President of the leading Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP).
The delegation included several ministers, many senior advisers in the Lebanese government, and businessmen.
“During the meeting, Barzani and Bassil spoke of the strong ties between the Kurdistan Region and Lebanon, and noted that these relations are of mutual benefit,” Barzani’s press office said in a statement.
The two sides also discussed challenges in the region, particularly the Kurdistan Region’s role in the global effort to defeat the Islamic State, and highlighted the immense impact the influx of refugees and displaced people from Iraq had on Kurdistan’s financial situation.
The Lebanese delegation also met with officials from the Erbil Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
In a press conference, Bassil told reporters that Lebanon had played a significant role in developing the Kurdistan Region’s economy. He also said Lebanon would encourage businessmen and investors to return to the region and re-invest after the instability and insecurity Iraq has faced over the past few years.
The delegates are also expected to meet with other Kurdish officials before they return to Beirut, including the incumbent KRG Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany