ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov arrived in Baghdad on Monday on an official visit during which he is slated to meet with a number of Iraqi officials.
Lavrov met with his Iraqi counterpart, Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohammed al-Hakim, immediately after his arrival in the Iraqi capital, Moscow-funded RT reported.
The visit comes at a time when several Iraqi cities are witnessing nearly a week of sustained violence-ridden protests that have seen the deaths of over a hundred people and injuries to over 6,000 others.
Lavrov's visit to Baghdad is his first since Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mahdi officially took office late last year. It will also mark his first trip to the Kurdistan Region, which he is scheduled to visit after leaving Baghdad in the coming days.
A source familiar with Lavrov's plans told Kurdistan 24 that Lavrov would visit Erbil after the end of his tour in Baghdad, noting specifically that he will meet with Kurdistan Region President Nechirvan Barzani and Prime Minister Masrour Barzani.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova told reporters last month that Lavrov would make a two-day visit to Iraq to discuss "views on the central aspects of the Middle East agenda, with a focus on the situation in Iraq, Syria and the Gulf region."
Earlier, Russian Assistant Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov confirmed in a previous statement to Kurdistan 24 that Lavrov's trip would include the Kurdistan Region, pointing out that his country has "historical relations" with Erbil.
In mid-September, a Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) official said that a memorandum of understanding was about to be signed between the Kurdistan Region and Russia during a ceremony in Moscow to promote trade and investment.
Shivan Abdulrahman, the General Secretary of the Federation of the Chambers of Trade and Industry in the Kurdistan Region, said that the move would “support cross-border and foreign trade, promote industrial development in the region, revive the economy, and provide more job opportunities in Kurdistan.”
Editing by John J. Catherine