ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – US Senator Tammy Baldwin (D, Wisconsin) and an accompanying delegation met with senior Kurdish leaders in Erbil on Thursday.
The US Senator held discussions with the Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), Masrour Barzani, and with the Kurdistan Region’s President Nechirvan Barzani. The US Consul-General in Erbil, Steven Fagin, attended the meetings.
The two sides held an in-depth discussion about relations between Erbil-and Baghdad, as well as security development in the region, including the terrorist activity of sleeper cells of the so-called Islamic-State.
I was pleased to welcome @SenatorBaldwin to Erbil — Exchanged views on security and reconstruction challenges in Iraq preventing voluntary return of displaced families, including religious groups, and ways to reduce regional tensions. pic.twitter.com/kjROY05y8t— Masrour Barzani (@masrour_barzani) October 3, 2019
Prime Minister Barzani shed light on the latest developments between the KRG and Iraq's federal government, while he explained that the “positive understanding” of the Iraqi Prime “of the dialogue between both sides” provides “hope of reaching an agreement on a constitutional basis."
The Prime Minister also described the Islamic State’s increasing activities in areas of Iraq, which pose a severe threat to the population. He emphasized the need for further cooperation and coordination with the federal government in those areas in order to successfully resist the terrorist group.
Officials from Kurdistan, along with civilians in the disputed territories, have long called for a joint security plan between the Peshmerga Forces and the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) to fill the security gaps in the disputed areas. However, so far, there has been no committed effort from Baghdad to address the problem.
Sen. Baldwin also met with President Nechirvan Barzani. The two sides reiterated their support for resolving disputes between the KRG and the federal government through a constructive dialogue within the framework of the Iraqi constitution to address the long outstanding issues between the two sides.
The Kurdish President also expressed the deep appreciation of the Kurdistan Region for the US role in supporting the fight against the so-called Islamic State.
For her part, Sen. Baldwin praised highly the sacrifices of the Peshmerga sacrifices, as they fought the Islamic State, while she affirmed the continued support of the US for the Kurdistan Region and Iraq.
Editing by Laurie Mylroie