ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani stated his support for Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi, whom he described as a “brother and friend,” with the Iraqi leader also praising the former President of the Kurdistan Region as they discussed the strengthening of Baghdad-Erbil ties.
Barzani, who is currently the President of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), landed at the Baghdad International Airport earlier in the day where he was welcomed by Parliament Speaker Mohammed al-Halbousi and leader of the Fatih Coalition, Hadi al-Amiri.
“We are honored to receive Mr. Masoud Barzani here in Baghdad,” Abdul-Mahdi said in a press conference during the two leaders’ meeting.
He added that Barzani “is an old fighter known by the mountains of Kurdistan and is a leader in Iraq’s conversion and transformation into a democracy after the fall of the dictatorship.”
Barzani is a key “engineer in the process of building relations, not just in Iraq, but in the region and world.”
The recently-elected Premier also said he hoped “such meetings will continue in the future, whether they are in Baghdad or Erbil or anywhere in Iraq, to solve the many issues at hand.”
Barzani, in turn, congratulated Abdul-Mahdi on his new post, describing him as his “brother and friend.”
“Our relationship is an old one,” Barzani said, adding “we express our full support for” Abdul-Mahdi. “We will continue to work to improve ties.”
In Baghdad — Auspicious moment for a meaningful debate on unresolved issues and institutionalizing KRG-Fed Govt relations. I’m optimistic given the new leadership appreciates the shared benefits of success and costs of failure are many for our peoples and the region- mb. pic.twitter.com/O8Zy66QURx— Masrour Barzani (@masrour_barzani) November 23, 2018
Barzani’s visit appears to be an indication of improving bilateral relations between Baghdad and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) after considerable tensions following the 2017 controversial Kurdish referendum on independence.
The vote held on Sep. 25, 2017, took place in the Kurdistan Region and disputed territories and saw a landslide majority favoring secession. Barzani played the leading role in advocating for the vote.
In response, Baghdad imposed punitive measures, such as an international flight ban on the region which contributed to weakening further its economy in the midst of a financial crisis and the fight against the Islamic State (IS). Iraqi forces and Iran-backed Shia militias also mobilized on disputed territories to drive out the Kurdish Peshmerga forces who previously fought alongside them against IS.
Accompanying Barzani on this visit was Chancellor of the Kurdistan Region Security Council (KRSC), Masrour Barzani.
Editing by Nadia Riva