Kurdistan Region PM and US consul discuss economic crisis, COVID-19
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Kurdistan Region Prime Minister Masrour Barzani on Thursday received Steven Fagin, US Consul General to Erbil, to discuss the latest developments in the region with a focus on the Kurdistan Regional Government's (KRG) efforts to cope with the current economic crisis caused by disputes with the federal Iraqi government and the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
During the meeting, Barzani stated that the Kurdistan Region is in a challenging economic situation, prompting the government to drastically reduce expenditures and increase revenues in accordance with a recently approved action plan, according to a KRG press release.
Concerning relations between Erbil and Baghdad, Barzani stressed that officials from both sides continue their dialogue to reach a solution within the framework of the Iraqi constitution. He noted that the duties and rights of the federal and regional governments should be clearly outlined and protected.
In another part of the meeting, the US diplomat commended the KRG’s curfew and other preventative measures which are credited with largely preventing widespread outbreaks of the coronavirus pandemic, officially known as COVID-19.
Barzani and Fagin both agreed to continue development of US-Kurdistan Region relations and foster more American investment in the Kurdistan Region. Barzani called on the US and the international community to assist the Kurdistan Region and Iraq during these difficult economic times.
On Wednesday, the US Consul-General also met with the president of the Kurdistan Region, Nechirvan Barzani, covering the same basic range of issues.
Barzani's meeting with Fagin follows on a recent phone conversation he had with the US Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette, in which they discussed US investment in the Kurdistan Region's energy sector and the process of freeing up access to international financial assistance.
Fagin was also present when Prime Minister Barzani welcomed David Schenker, the United State’s Assistant Secretary of Near Eastern Affairs, to his Erbil office.
The meeting took place in early January against the backdrop of escalating tensions between the US and Iran playing out on the ground in Iraq.
Editing by John J. Catherine