Kurdish leaders discuss disputed areas, Erbil-Baghdad ties with US delegation

Senior Kurdish officials on Monday discussed the current situation in disputed territories as well as Erbil-Baghdad relations with a US delegation in Erbil.
author_image Sangar Ali

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Senior Kurdish officials on Monday discussed the current situation in disputed territories as well as Erbil-Baghdad relations with a US delegation in Erbil.

The US delegation was led by Deputy Secretary of State for Iraq and Iran, Andrew Peek, accompanied by US Ambassador to Iraq, Matthew Muller, Consul-General in Erbil, Steven Fagin, and other diplomats.

They met with the incumbent Chancellor of the Kurdistan Region Security Council (KRSC) and current Prime Minister-designate Masrour Barzani, with whom they discussed — at length — the longstanding relationship between the Kurdistan Region and Iraq.

“The situation in the disputed territories and shared support for the return of joint security mechanisms between Peshmerga Forces and Iraqi Security Forces were also reviewed,” a KRSC statement noted.

In outlining his reform agenda, Barzani urged Peek “to sustain monthly stipends to the Peshmerga Forces.”

He emphasized that the next Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) cabinet intends to lead new, sustained efforts to tackle Erbil-Baghdad disputes.

The meeting also touched upon recent political developments in Iraq. Both sides agreed to continue regular consultations on these issues.

The meeting came one day after a US business delegation led by Steve Lutes, Vice-President of Middle Eastern Affairs at the US Chamber of Commerce, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with their Kurdistan Region counterparts.

Read More: US, Kurdistan Chambers of Commerce sign ‘significant’ agreement

Peek’s delegation also met with the President of the Kurdistan Region, Nechirvan Barzani, where they stressed the importance of a US relations with Iraq and the Kurdistan Region.

President of the Kurdistan Region Nechirvan Barzani (R) and US Ambassador to Iraq Matthew Muller in Ebril, June 24, 2019. (Photo: Barzani's press office)
President of the Kurdistan Region Nechirvan Barzani (R) and US Ambassador to Iraq Matthew Muller in Ebril, June 24, 2019. (Photo: Barzani's press office)

Both sides highlighted the progress witnessed in improving ties between Erbil and Baghdad. US delegates expressed their readiness to help the two capitals address long-standing issues through peaceful dialogue, according to Barzani’s press office.

Barzani praised the US’ assistance to the Kurdish autonomous region in difficult periods and discussed bilateral relations between Erbil and Washington DC.

The Kurdish leader also stressed the importance of the visit by the American Chamber of Commerce delegation, stating the US can benefit from the Kurdistan Region as a gateway to reach wider Iraq.

The newly elected president briefed the delegates about his recent visit to Baghdad and shared his keenness to resolve issues between the KRG and the federal government based on the Constitution of Iraq.

They also discussed the latest development in the region, steps to form the new KRG cabinet, the coordination between the US-led coalition, Erbil, and Baghdad against terrorist threats, as well as the living conditions of displaced peoples in the Kurdistan Region and preparations for their return home.

Editing by Nadia Riva