UK foreign secretary reaffirms commitment to Kurdistan Region in Erbil visit

Kurdistan Region President Nechirvan Barzani (R) met UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab in Erbil on June 9, 2021. (Photo: KRG)
Kurdistan Region President Nechirvan Barzani (R) met UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab in Erbil on June 9, 2021. (Photo: KRG)

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The United Kingdom remains committed to its relations with the Kurdistan Region, the British foreign secretary said on Wednesday during a visit to Erbil. 

UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab arrived in the Kurdish capital earlier in the day, when his delegation was received by Kurdistan Region President Nechirvan Barzani and his deputies, as well as Kurdistan Regional Government Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani.

The meeting between British and Kurdish officials touched upon the latest political developments in the region and Iraq, including upcoming federal elections, the ongoing war against terrorism, and bilateral ties, according to Barzani. 

“The UK is committed to its ties with the Kurdistan Region economically and militarily,” Rabb said during a press conference with Barzani, adding that he had an “excellent meeting” with the Kurdish president.

The foreign secretary stressed the “important role” that the KRG played in the fight against ISIS. “I applaud the role of Peshmerga forces and the Kurdish people in this long-standing relationship,” he added.

Barzani reiterated the region’s commitment to combatting terrorism “shoulder-to-shoulder” with coalition partners.

Raab added that his visit to the region was to strengthen “our long-standing relations, and we are happy for this continued relationship.”

He echoed Barzani's comments on the nature of ties between the two governments, saying the UK was "very committed to deeping [the] partnership," particularly in trade and business. 

The British foreign secretary's visit to Erbil came after a stop in Baghdad on Tuesday, where he met with top officials, including President Barham Salih; Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi; the speaker of parliament, Mohammed al-Halbousi; and Raab’s Iraqi counterpart, Foreign Minister Fuad Hussien. 

Threat of Climate Change in Iraq

In another aspect of the conference, Barzani reiterated the threat of climate change across Iraq, which is the fifth most vulnerable country to extreme temperatures, according to the  United Nations.

“The negative impacts of [climate change] are about to appear in the Kurdistan Region as droughts will be a rigid challenge in front of us,” Barzani said, expressing the region’s commitment in reducing the negative impacts. 

The Kurdistan Region has a plan to counter harmful gases such as carbon dioxide, which contribute to global warming, according to the president, who said he discussed the issue with the foreign secretary.