ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – A Kurdistan Region delegation headed by Chancellor of the Kurdistan Region Security Council (KRSC) Masrour Barzani continued its second day of meetings with key foreign officials in Germany on the sidelines of the 2019 Munich Security Conference.
11:05 a.m. – Chancellor Barzani met a parliamentary delegation from the Alternative for Germany (AFD) led by Rudiger Lucassen to discuss Germany’s support for the Kurdistan Region, in particular, during the war against the Islamic State.
The Kurdish official “urged the Parliamentary group to increase aid for over 1.4 million displaced individuals and refugees in the Kurdistan Region,” according to a KRSC statement.
They also reviewed developments between the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the Federal Government of Iraq. Barzani emphasized that the next KRG cabinet would work closely with Baghdad to settle outstanding disputes based on the Iraqi Constitution.
11:31 a.m. - The Kurdish delegates meet with the United Nations’ envoy to Syria, Geir Pedersen.
Barzani and Pedersen discussed developments on the situation in Syria, with the Kurdish official raising concerns about the future of Syrian Kurdish populations, according to the KRSC’s press office.
In the meeting, both sides agreed on the need to avoid further conflict. In that regard, Chancellor Barzani urged the envoy to include all communities and political factions in talks for a negotiated settlement that protects the rights and safety of the Kurdish people.
At the meeting’s close, they agreed to continue to stay in touch on these important issues, the statement added.
12:02 p.m. – Barzani meets with Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.
Speaking to Kurdish reporters after the meeting, Zarif said he had “a very good meeting” with Barzani in which they discussed bilateral relations, the current situation in the Kurdistan Region, and developments in Syria.
#Iran's @JZarif said he had a "very good meeting" with @masrour_barzani, in which they discussed bilateral relations, the current situation in the #Kurdistan Region, and "making sure the rights of Kurdish people in #Syria are fully respected."— Kurdistan 24 English (@K24English) February 16, 2019
Details: https://t.co/sjapEAs0vu pic.twitter.com/J5rnv5A7Yr
He stated that they stressed the importance of the territorial integrity of Syria and “making sure the rights of Kurdish people in Syria are fully respected.”
He mentioned a planned “greater economic interaction” between Iran and Iraq as well as between Iran and the autonomous Kurdistan Region.
Zarif noted that in his talks with officials from the Kurdistan Region they covered both free trade and free industrial zones with Iran.
Responding to a question from Kurdistan 24 about US sanctions on Iran, he stated: “We are neighbors. We are actually the same people. We will continue to have relations.”
He ended the interview with a smile and said: “They’re the outsiders. They will go, sooner or later.”
12:50 p.m. - The Kurdish delegates meet with the United Kingdom Defense Secretary, Gavin Williamson.
Barzani and Williamson discussed the strong relationship between the Kurdistan Region and the United Kingdom, according to a KRSC statement.
In the meeting held on the margins of the Munich Security Conference, the Kurdish official thanked Williamson for the UK’s support in the war on the Islamic State, not least of which was training given to Peshmerga forces.
They agreed that combating the continued Islamic State threat in Iraq and beyond requires sustained and global cooperation.
The officials also discussed the ongoing situation in Syria. Barzani urged the UK to help advance a long-term agreement that prevents further conflict and provides local communities guarantees about their future safety, including the Kurdish people.
After the discussion, Williamson spoke to reporters and described the meeting as “very positive,” adding there has always been “strong affection and real commitment between the British people and Kurdistan.”
He mentioned that the UK “has always been supportive and will continue to be supportive in the future.”
After the discussion with @masrour_barzani, @GavinWilliamson talked to reporters, called it "a very positive meeting," and stating that there has always been "strong affection and real commitment between the #British people and #Kurdistan."— Kurdistan 24 English (@K24English) February 16, 2019
Details: https://t.co/sjapEAs0vu#Iraq pic.twitter.com/KZuvgbXoks
2:55 p.m. – Chancellor Barzani meets with Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar.
The two officials “had a substantive exchange” with Akar congratulating Barzani “on his nomination to form the next KRG cabinet,” a KRSC statement read.
“They also discussed bilateral relations” and “regional developments,” it added.
“In that regard, Chancellor Barzani urged Minister Akar to strengthen economic ties with the Kurdistan Region.”
3:56 p.m. - The Kurdish delegation meets with US Deputy Assistant Secretary for Iran and Iraq, Andrew Peek.
Chancellor Barzani and Peek held “a productive meeting…to follow-up their talks in the Kurdistan Region,” the KRSC press office said.
In their meeting at the Munich Security Conference, they “reviewed recent developments between Erbil and Baghdad.”
“Chancellor Barzani and Deputy Assistant Secretary Peek agreed on the importance of combined security mechanisms between Peshmerga and Iraqi Security Forces,” the statement added.
Another topic of discussion was the ongoing defeat of the Islamic State. Both officials “expressed concern” about the extremist group’s “activities in several northern Iraqi provinces.”
“On [the] Kurdistan Region, Chancellor Barzani noted progress [had] been made to form a new KRG Cabinet.”
4:33 p.m. – Barzani and the Kurdish delegates meet with a German security delegation.
5:02 p.m. – The KRSC Chancellor sits with James Jeffrey, the US Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIS.
The two “had a lengthy discussion…about the situation in Syria and developments in Iraq,” the KRSC press office said.
On the Islamic State, Barzani underlined that the Kurdistan Region “is alarmed by increasing attacks in several Iraqi provinces” and noted that “the nature of their operations has evolved, emphasizing the need to address the root causes that led to their emergence.”
Jeffrey highlighted the sacrifices the Kurdish Peshmerga, and Iraqi forces continue to make in the war against the extremist group, the statement said.
“They agreed that despite the territorial defeat of the terrorist organization, the ideology remains a shared threat.”
On Syria, “Chancellor Barzani expressed concern about the future of the Kurdish people,” and called on Jeffrey “to help advance a permanent settlement based on dialogue with all communities and inclusive talks with political factions.”
5:35 p.m. – The Kurdish delegation meets with Minister of State of the German Foreign Office, Niels Annen.
“In the meeting, Minister Annen praised the sacrifices of the Peshmerga in the war against” the Islamic State, the KRSC press office said.
Barzani underlined Germany’s contribution in the fight against the extremist group, and highlighted the fact that Berlin “stood by the peoples of the Kurdistan Region following the [ISIS] attack in 2014.”
Both officials also spoke about areas liberated from the Islamic State, including the Yezidi (Ezidi) town of Sinjar (Shingal).
“In that regard, Chancellor Barzani emphasized the Kurdistan Region wants to see services, infrastructure and security restored quickly to promote the safe and dignified return of displaced families to their ancestral homes,” the statement concluded.
7:15 p.m. – Chancellor Barzani meets with Elissa Slotkin, a Member of the US House of Representatives.
7:45 p.m. – The Kurdish official meets Germany’s Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen and an accompanying delegation.
Speaking to reporters after their meeting, Leyen praised “the in-depth knowledge” Germany’s “Kurdish friends” have regarding developments in the region.
“It was good to talk about the projects we have together like the Peshmerga Hospital or the training of Peshmerga in Erbil,” she added.
On the government formation in the Kurdistan Region, the German Defense Minister said Berlin is “observing the process of government building with [a] very positive emphasis.”
“We hope it will be a very inclusive government, this will be good for the stability of the region,” she told Kurdistan 24.
8:32 p.m. – In his last meeting of the second day of the 2019 Munich Security Conference, Chancellor Barzani meets with Anwar Gargash, the United Arab Emirates’ Minister of State for Foreign Affairs.
In the meeting, both sides stressed strong and historic ties between their peoples.
They reviewed ways to promote trade and investment opportunities, in particular in agriculture; increase business confidence, and lay the groundwork necessary for partnerships to thrive, according to the KRSC press office.
The current situation in Iraq and Syria were other topics discussed during the meeting.
Speaking to reporters after his meetings, Chancellor Barzani said the Kurdish delegation met with several senior foreign officials who attended the conference in Munich “to raise some important issues and concerns, as well as share our opinions on certain matters.”
The Kurdish official noted that the developments in Syria, in particular, the issue of the Kurdish people there was discussed in Saturday’s meetings. Moreover, the Kurdish delegation spoke about Erbil-Baghdad relations as well as Germany-Kurdistan economic relations.
Another topic of discussion in the meetings was the ongoing fight against the Islamic State, and ways to address the root causes of the group’s emergence.
“We are happy to contribute to the conference and hope these meetings can benefit the Kurdistan Region and its people,” Chancellor Barzani concluded.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany and John J. Catherine
(Additional reporting by Barzan Hassan)