US delegation meets Kurdistan PM; Washington seeks strengthening ties with 'important ally'

“We welcomed the strength of the US-Kurdistan relationship, discussed the US-Iraq Strategic Dialogue, and committed to greater efforts towards regional peace and stability,” Prime Minister Barzani said.
author_image Hiwa Shilani
Masrour Barzani (Right), Kurdistan Region Prime Minister, during a meeting in Erbil with US State Department Adviser Derek Chollet, May 5. 2021. (Photo: KRG)
Masrour Barzani (Right), Kurdistan Region Prime Minister, during a meeting in Erbil with US State Department Adviser Derek Chollet, May 5. 2021. (Photo: KRG)

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – A high-level US delegation on Wednesday arrived in the capital of the Kurdistan Region and met with Prime Minister Masrour Barzani, a statement from his office said.

The US delegation included State Department Adviser Derek Chollet; White House Coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa Affairs, Brett McGurk; Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, Joey Hood; and Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Middle East Affairs, Dana Stroul.

Last week, McGurk and Stroul addressed a webinar, hosted by the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) Representation in Washington. Both officials affirmed that US relations with the Kurdistan Region constitute a “strategic partnership.”

Read More: Biden administration: We have a ‘strategic partnership’ with the Kurdistan Region

The event marked the first time that senior US officials had used the term—“strategic partnership”—so clearly, indicating that they highly value America’s relationship with the Kurdistan Region. They see it as long-term, rather than tactical and short-term, a view they reiterated in meeting with Barzani.

“Great to see friends from the US administration,” Barzani tweeted after the meeting, which was also attended by Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani.

“We welcomed the strength of the US-Kurdistan relationship, discussed the US-Iraq Strategic Dialogue, and committed to greater efforts towards regional peace and stability,” his tweet continued.

The US delegation conveyed greetings from President Joe Biden to Prime Minister Barzani, the KRG statement said. The delegation also indicated that the visit affirmed Biden’s desire, as well as that of the US government more broadly, to strengthen relations with Kurdistan, which it characterized as "an important ally of the US in the region.”

The US team also praised the KRG's ongoing reform efforts, especially those in the Ministry of Peshmerga, and reiterated Washington’s continued support, as well as that of the international coalition against ISIS, for the Peshmerga forces in combatting terrorism.

Read More: US envoy to Iraq ‘commends’ KRG Peshmerga reforms

For his part, Barzani expressed the KRG's appreciation to Biden for the US government's support. He also indicated Erbil's readiness to further develop bilateral relations with Washington.

The meeting also dealt with Iraq-Kurdistan relations; the upcoming Iraqi elections; the strategic dialogue between Iraq and the US; and the importance of implementing the Sinjar (Shingal) Agreement, the statement from Barzani’s office concluded.

Read More: UN envoy to Iraq calls for Sinjar agreement to be implemented

Editing by Khrush Najari