ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – Iraqi President Fuad Masum on Saturday arrived in Sulaimani Province to discuss three topics with Kurdish officials, including the ongoing tensions between Erbil and Baghdad.
Masum will discuss the internal political turmoil and division within his party, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), the current situation in Kirkuk Province after the takeover of Iraqi forces and the Iranian-backed Shia Hashd al-Shaabi militias on Oct. 16, and the tensions between the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the Federal Government of Iraq, a source from the PUK told Kurdistan 24.
The PUK is the third largest party in the Kurdistan Region and has been facing internal political divisions following the death of its former leader Jalal Talabani, particularly after the Kirkuk attack.
Masum will also visit Erbil to meet with KRG officials to discuss Erbil-Baghdad relations, the source added.
The Iraqi President recently told reporters the issues between both sides need “serious talks,” and hoped he would be successful in “converging views” between Erbil and Baghdad.
Ties between the two governments considerably deteriorated following the Kurdistan Region’s Sep. 25 independence referendum.
“The ground is now appropriate to address the problems through dialogue and understanding,” the Iraqi President said.
Masum has often been criticized by people in the Kurdistan Region for being powerless and playing an ineffective role in addressing current Erbil-Baghdad issues compared to former Iraqi President Talabani.
The KRG initiated the dialogue by freezing the results of the independence vote, and expressing their respect to the Federal Court of Iraq’s ruling which emphasized unconstitutionality of any secession in the country.
Baghdad has taken collective punitive measures against Kurdistan in retaliation to the plebiscite.
The Iraqi government also stated that the annulment of the referendum results and handing over of border crossings and airports in the Region are the only way to launch a dialogue.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany