Iraq’s premier calls for ‘national dialogue’ following papal visit
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Iraq’s Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi on Monday called for a “deep national dialogue” to solve the outstanding issues facing the country, including problems between Baghdad and Erbil, following a three-day visit by Pope Francis.
The premier’s remarks came as the head of the Catholic Church departed Baghdad after a visit that included stops in historic and religious sites throughout Iraq and the Kurdistan Region as well as meetings with top religious and political figures.
“On the basis of this historic responsibility, and in the atmosphere of love and tolerance, promoted by the visit of His Holiness the Pope to Iraq, the land of Mesopotamia, we present today the call for a national dialogue, to be a pathway to achieve the aspirations of our people,” Khadhimi said.
Kadhimi also called for a “deep and genuine” national dialogue with the participation of all sides on the relationship between the Iraqi federal government and the autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), which is shaped by various issues, mainly economic.
“I also call for a national dialogue to reach a framework for a final agreement on the relationship between the central government and the Kurdistan Region of Iraq in a way that preserves the integrity of Iraq’s territories,” he said.
The Region’s share in the federal budget is one of the main points of contention between the two sides, which has long hindered progress on a lasting deal.
Kurdistan Region President Nechirvan Barzani expressed his support for Kadhimi’s comments.
“I support a deep and actual national dialogue to reach a final and lasting deal between [the] Federal Government and KRG,” said President Barzani in a tweet on Monday.
Iraq faces numerous challenges, from fiscal to security and health issues that have exacerbated political instability.
On top of the threat from remnants of the Islamic State terror group, a renewed threat is facing the country in the form of rocket attacks from militias targeting military and diplomatic installations.
The final destination of Pope Francis’ trip was Erbil, capital of the Kurdistan Region, where he led a Mass for roughly 10,000 attendees at Franso Hariri Stadium, named after an assassinated Christian politician and former governor of Erbil.
Editing by Joanne Stocker-Kelly