Vatican Ambassador to Iraq meets with top Kurdistan Region official
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The Vatican's Ambassador to Iraq was in Erbil on Wednesday to meet with Kurdistan Region Prime Minister Masrour Barzani to discuss several issues of the day that are relevant to the region's Christians.
Mitja Leskovar, officially titled the Apostolic Nuncio to Iraq, began by conveying greetings to Barzani from Pope Francis.
The envoy's visit comes nearly two months after the pontiff's historic trip in early March, in which he delivered a message of peace and brotherhood to the war-torn communities in Iraq. The effort was widely perceived as a hopeful sign for the nation's beleaguered Christian population.
Read More: Erbil's beleaguered Christian community sees hope in pope's visit
Leskovar also thanked Barzani for the protection and hosting of Iraqi Christians within the autonomous region, especially those displaced after fleeing various forms of violence and oppression in Iraq, most recently after the 2014 rise of ISIS throughout much of the Middle Eastern nation.
According to a statement by Barzani's office, the Kurdish leader "affirmed the commitment of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to consolidate and strengthen the culture of peaceful and national coexistence in the Kurdistan Region," and expressed his hope that the culture of tolerance and peaceful coexistence will flourish among the various Iraqi components."
The two discussed the relationship between the Kurdistan Region and the federal government of Iraq, including the importance of Baghdad to implement the 2021 national budget and send financial dues to the Kurdistan Region.
The meeting also dealt with the situation in multiple decimated Christian-majority communities in towns and villages in northern territories disputed by Baghdad and Erbil.
Editing by John J. Catherine