ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) President Masoud Barzani has welcomed France’s initiative to begin talks on Syria but called on Paris to consider the future of the Syrian Kurds.
Barzani made the comments during a meeting on Wednesday with Olivier Decottignies, the new French Consul General to Erbil.
A delegation of French Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) met with President Bashar al-Assad in Syria last week to discuss the ongoing conflict in the country as well as other regional developments. France has also met with Syrian Kurdish leaders as well.
“President Barzani expressed support for the initiative by [French] President Emmanuel Macron on Syria and conveyed his concerns and observations to [Decottignies and his accompanying delegation] about the situation and future of the Kurdish people in Syria,” a statement on the KDP leader’s website read.
Barzani also stressed that the factors which led to the emergence of the so-called Islamic State and its extremist ideology still exist and have not been addressed, the statement added.
For his part, Decottignies conveyed the greetings of the French president and foreign minister and “expressed his happiness about the stability prevailing in the Kurdistan Region and the start of the new government.”
Audience auprès du Président @masoud_barzani. Un grand honneur et l'occasion d'une discussion approfondie de la situation de l'#Irak et de son environnement régional et des moyens d'approfondir notre coopération avec la région du #Kurdistan. https://t.co/yXUmGbmVtI— CG Decottignies (@O_Decottignies) September 4, 2019
During their meeting, the senior Kurdish leader thanked Macron and France’s foreign minister – whom he had met with in the past – for their “historical friendship” and said French-Kurdish relations would continue to grow.
The new Consul General met with Kurdistan Region Prime Minister Masrour Barzani on Sunday where the two highlighted the positive relations between Erbil and Paris.
Decottignies replaces Dominique Mas as the new Consul General of France to the Kurdistan Region.
France played a pivotal role in easing tensions between Erbil and Baghdad following the Kurdistan Region’s 2017 independence referendum – which included territories disputed between the two administrations – with a majority voting for secession.
France is also an essential member of the US-led coalition against the Islamic State. Since 2014, the French government has provided humanitarian, logistical, and military support to the Kurdish Peshmerga and Iraqi forces in the fight against the extremist group.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this report incorrectly stated that France had met with Syria’s leadership. French MEPs met with Assad to discuss matters on Syria. France has also previously met with Syrian Kurdish leaders to discuss the future of the region.