Iran's FM holds talks with Kurdish officials in visit to Iraq
Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has held talks with officials from the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Region on a range of issues on the second day of his visit to neighboring Iraq.
According to Press TV, Zarif met with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Prime Minister Masrour Barzani in Erbil on Tuesday.
The two sides exchanged views on trade, economic, political and consular relations between Iran, Iraq and the KRG.
Zarif and Barzani “discussed developing relations between the Kurdistan Region and the Islamic Republic of Iran, based on mutual respect and interest. They also stressed on bolstering relations in terms of economy and trade exchange,” read a statement released by the KRG prime minister’s office.
They also touched on Erbil-Baghdad relations and Kurdistan’s share from the federal budget law which was recently passed by the Iraqi parliament, it added.
Aziz Ahmad, the Deputy Chief of Staff to Barzani, tweeted that Zarif had invited the Kurdish premier to visit Tehran.
Additionally on Tuesday, the top Iranian diplomat met with former KRG President Masoud Barzani, who leads the region’s ruling Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP).
He also held talks with KRG President Nechirvan Barzani on international developments as well as political and economic ties between Iran, Iraq and the Arab country’s Kurdistan region.
The two sides discussed several topics, including the “broadening of economic and trade relations between Iraq and the Kurdistan Region and Iran as well as trade movement on their borders,” according to a statement issued by the KRG president's office.
Zarif expressed concerns about recent rocket attacks on Erbil, the statement quoted the Iranian foreign minister as saying. “Iran wants a stable and safe region. Stability and good economic ties are in the interest of both sides.”
Barzani, for his part, highlighted historic relations between Kurdistan and Iran along with the Islamic Republic’s support for the semi-autonomous region during its tough times.
The KRG president further stressed that Kurdistan will be a catalyst of regional stability, and that it views its relations with Iran from the channel of good neighborliness and common interests.
Issues such as the situation in Iraq, the war against the Daesh terrorist group, the US-led coalition, Baghdad-Erbil relations, expanding the relations between Iran and Kurdistan, commercial exchange at the borders were also raised during the meeting.
Later in the day, Zarif visited Sulaymaniyah Province, where he met with Bafel Talabani and Lahur Sheikh Jangi Talabany, Co-Chairs of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK).
They exchanged views on Iraqi, regional and international developments as well as bilateral ties, economic issues and the promotion of trade relations.
Zarif's tour of the region started with a visit to Doha, Qatar. He later visited Baghdad and Erbil in Iraq. The Iranian diplomat's next destination will be Muscat, Oman.