Top Kurdistan Region officials meet Iranian FM, reaffirm 'friendly relations'

“We reaffirmed the friendly relations between the Kurdistan Region and Iran, based on mutual respect,” and “stressed the importance of promoting regional peace and stability.”

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif met with top Kurdistan Region officials in Erbil on Sunday, discussing a range of issues from political developments in Iraq to trade amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Zarif arrived in Erbil atop a delegation that included Iran's ambassador to Iraq, Iraj Masjedi. The Kurdistan Region's vice president, Jaafar Sheikh Mustafa, and head of the Department of Foreign Relations, Safeen Dizayee, welcomed the Iranian team at the Erbil International Airport.

The visit came after back-to-back meetings in Baghdad with top Iraqi officials earlier in the day. After this, the Iranian official arrived in Erbil and met with Kurdistan Region President Nechirvan Barzani, and then sat down, separately, with Prime Minister Masrour Barzani and the head of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), Masoud Barzani.

President Barzani described Iran as "a very important neighbor" during a press conference following his meeting with Zarif, and highlighted Iran's role in the region. The two reportedly discussed bilateral trade and ways of preventing the ongoing spread of the coronavirus.

Related Article: Iranian FM arrives in Erbil, meets Kurdistan Region President

In the Iranian minister's next meeting with prime minister Barzani, they discussed "relations between the Kurdistan Region and the Islamic Republic of Iran, especially in the area of trade." The two also stressed "the importance of bilateral coordination in the fight against the coronavirus disease."

Following the reopening of some border crossings with Iran, the original epicenter of the disease in the Middle East, Iraq and the Kurdistan Region have been recording increasingly higher numbers of infections and deaths, starting towards the end of May.

Speaking with Kurdistan 24 in June, the World Health Organization's representative to Iraq said that resuming trade with Iran, "without proper health measures," was a major cause of an upsurge in coronavirus cases starting late May. Other factors include Iraqis lack of adherence to health guidelines.

Related Article: WHO: 'Breach' of health regulations, trade with Iran behind new COVID-19 spike in Iraq, Kurdistan

Barzani and Zarif also "agreed that resolving the disputes between the Kurdistan Region and the federal [Iraqi] government on the basis of the Constitution is in the interests of all Iraqi citizens."

"We reaffirmed the friendly relations between the Kurdistan Region and Iran, based on mutual respect," and "stressed the importance of promoting regional peace and stability."

Following this, Masoud Barzani said in a tweet that he had "a productive meeting" with Zarif, as they "discussed the current political situations in the Kurdistan Region, Iraq, and beyond as well as the ongoing global health crisis with the hope of expeditious outcomes."