French president Macron expected to meet Kurdistan Region president in Baghdad

Kurdish diplomatic sources told Kurdistan 24 that Macron had invited the President of the Kurdistan Region to meet with him in the Iraqi capital, as he will not be able to travel to Erbil during his visit.

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – French President Emmanuel Macron is expected to meet the President of the Kurdistan Region, Nechirvan Barzani, on Wednesday, when Macron visits Baghdad, official sources confirmed to Kurdistan 24 on Monday.

Kurdish diplomatic sources told Kurdistan 24 that Macron had invited the President of the Kurdistan Region to meet with him in the Iraqi capital, as he will not be able to travel to Erbil during his visit.

Macron will be arriving in Iraq from Lebanon, where a new prime minister has just been chosen, following the resignation of the previous government after the disastrous August 4 explosion of ammonium nitrate at Beirut’s port, which killed over 180 people and wounded more than 6,000 others.

In a visit to Lebanon immediately after the massive accident, Macron impressed on the country’s leaders, the need for political reform and change in order to receive badly-needed economic assistance. He set September 1 as a deadline. 

After a day in Lebanon, Macron will travel to Iraq. That will make him the most senior foreign official to visit the Iraqi capital, since Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi took office in May.

“He will meet the Iraqi prime minister and president and is hoping to hold talks with a range of political actors,” an Iraqi government source told Agence France Presse.

Last week French Defense Minister Florence Parly visited Erbil and Baghdad. A senior Kurdish diplomatic source explained that during her meetings in the Kurdish capital, Parly explained why Macron would not be able to stop in Erbil and that he would like, instead, to meet the Kurdish president in Baghdad.

Read more: French armed forces minister meets with Kurdistan officials in Erbil

During her trip, Parly underscored France’s support for the Kurdistan Region and Iraq and explained that she expected the Coalition’s training of Peshmerga forces, which has been on hold because of the coronavirus, to resume in the near future.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian visited both Baghdad and Erbil in July and “reiterated” his country’s support for the Kurdistan Region. He also delivered an official invitation from Macron to the Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Region, Masrour Barzani, to meet him in France.
Read more: France’s FM reiterates support for Kurdistan Region, invites PM Masrour Barzani to meet Pres. Emmanuel Macron in Paris

France has long been a friend to the Kurds, going back to the 1980s, when Danielle Mitterrand, wife of the French president, Francois Mitterrand, took a special interest in their plight. That relationship has continued for over three decades.

France played a pivotal role in easing tensions between Erbil and Baghdad following the independence referendum held in the Kurdistan Region in 2017.

France is also a key member of the US-led Coalition against ISIS. Since 2014, it has provided humanitarian assistance to civilians displaced by the terrorist group, as well as military support to the Kurdish Peshmerga fighters and Iraqi forces involved in the fight against it.   

Editing by Laurie Mylroie