ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The Kurdistan Region’s Prime Minister, Masrour Barzani, on Wednesday met in Erbil with an Iranian delegation headed by the country’s ambassador to Iraq, Iraj Masjedi.
The two sides discussed a range of issues, including trade ties between Tehran and Erbil, as well as the latest regional developments, according to a statement from the Prime Minister’s office.
“Ambassador Masjedi acknowledged the new Kurdistan Regional Government’s [(KRG)] agenda and its commitment to strengthening bilateral ties with Tehran,” the statement said.
The autonomous Kurdish region and Iran maintain strong economic ties, with border trade accounting for a significant size of the local economy.
The two sides are close to finalizing the formalization of a number of border crossings to boost and improve trade routes.
The Prime Minister’s office said that Barzani had “informed Ambassador Masjedi of the progress made toward developing cities along the border with Iran, creating opportunities to increase trade and attract investment.”
The Kurdistan Region currently shares three international border crossings with Iran: Haji Omaran, Bashmaq, and Parwezkhan.
Local authorities in the Kurdistan Region have tried for years to secure official recognition from Baghdad for the border crossings, but disagreements between the KRG and the federal government of Iraq have delayed the process thus far.
Prime Minister Barzani “also updated Ambassador Masjedi on regional developments and the ongoing discussions between Erbil and Baghdad.”
Ties between Erbil and Baghdad significantly deteriorated following the Kurdistan Region’s independence referendum from September 2017 and remained fractured for months. Relations eventually began to improve, most noticeably after the formation of Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mahdi's new Iraqi federal government in late 2018.
Efforts to improve ties and reach an understanding over outstanding disputes are ongoing, with Iraq’s oil minister, Thamir Ghadban, recently stating that the issues were “solvable.”
Barzani and Masjedi emphasized “the importance of constructive dialogue and a stable relationship between the Kurdistan Regional Government and the federal government of Iraq, underpinned by the Kurdistan Region's rights enshrined in the constitution,” the statement concluded.
Editing by Nadia Riva