ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Iran is set to formalize the two border crossings of Kele and Shushme following a decree by the country’s President, Hassan Rouhani, an official from the Kurdistan Region side at one of the crossings said on Thursday.
The decision was reportedly made during a meeting between Rouhani and his ministers, director of the Raparin checkpoint—the Kurdistan Region-manned side of the Kele border crossing—Jawhar Rasoul, told Kurdistan 24.
However, the move requires approval from both countries. In April, a delegation of representatives from 12 Iraqi ministries arrived in Sulaimani to assess five unofficial gates, that include the aforementioned two, all of which are on the borders of the Sulaimani and Halabja provinces.
The delegation drafted a report on the crossings and was due to hand it over to Prime Minster Adil Abdul-Mahdi, who would later give his final say on the matter.
Speaking with Kurdistan 24 on Thursday, Iraqi Parliamentary Financial Affairs Committee member, Shirwan Mirza, hinted that the PM had not yet given the go-ahead to his Iranian counterpart.
A Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) delegation is set to visit Baghdad after the Eid al-Adha holidays to discuss a range issues with senior Iraqi officials.
“To avoid Iraq causing difficulties in formalizing the border crossings, the [KRG] delegation must discuss the question of revenue,” Mirza argued. “The approval of Iran alone is insufficient.”
Local authorities in the Kurdistan Region have tried for years to get the border crossings official recognition from Baghdad, but disagreements between the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the federal government of Iraq have delayed the process thus far.
Pressure from Tehran to open additional crossing points with the autonomous Kurdistan Region has also increased over the past few months, as Iran looks to boost exports and the creation of free-trade industrial zones as its economy continues to languish under the US sanctions.
The Kurdistan Region currently shares three international border crossings with Iran: Haji Omaran, Bashmaq, and Parwezkhan.
Editing by Nadia Riva
(Additional reporting by Aras Amin)