ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Nechirvan Barzan, the president of the autonomous Kurdistan Region, met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Istanbul on Friday, one day after meeting senior Iraqi officials in Baghdad.
The two leaders are expected to discuss bilateral relations between Erbil and Ankara as well as general developments in the region, a source from Barzani’s Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) told Kurdistan 24. Turkish media reported that the two would also discuss economic ties as well as growing tensions in the Middle East.
Erdogan congratulated Barzani on his appointment to the post of regional president. Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, who headed a Turkish delegation that attended Barzani's presidential inauguration ceremony on June 10, was also present at the meeting.
The Kurdistan Region and Turkey maintain strong economic and trade relations. Ties between the two became tense following Kurdistan's September 2017 referendum on independence, which Turkey strongly opposed. Since then, however, relations have recovered and appear to have improved significantly.
The trip abroad marks the first Barzani has made since taking office as president.
In a dedicated parliamentary session on May 28, 68 lawmakers from the Kurdistan Region’s 111-seat legislature voted in favor of him as the new regional president. Barzani is also the former prime minister of the Kurdistan Region and the deputy head of the leading KDP.
On Thursday, Barzani was in Baghdad and met separately with Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi, Parliament Speaker Mohammed al-Halbousi, and President Barham Salih.
Editing by John J. Catherine
(Sangar Ali contributed to this report)