ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Kurdistan Region Prime Minister Masrour Barzani on Tuesday received an American delegation headed by former Ambassador to Iraq James Jeffrey, now Special Representative for Syria Engagement and Special Envoy to the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS.
In their meeting, the two officials emphasized the importance of continued US support of Kurdish Peshmerga and federal Iraqi forces to confront the serious ongoing threat of the Islamic State and the autonomous region’s positive role regarding multiple issues in both Iraq and Syria.
According to a statement released by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), Amb. Jeffrey praised the efforts of Barzani and his administration “in bringing the Kurdish forces in southeastern Syria together,” stating further that “the Kurdistan Region, due to its, diversity, vitality, and friendship with US and western countries, enjoys an important and strategic location in the Middle East.”
He also met separately in Erbil with Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) leader Masoud Barzani and regional President Nechirvan Barzani.
One day earlier, the US State Department announced that Jeffrey, accompanied by Special Envoy for Syria Joel Rayburn, had visited northeast Syria on Sunday, where he held “separate meetings with senior officials of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the negotiating delegations of the ongoing intra-Kurdish dialogue, and with ranking council members and tribal leaders from the Deir ez-Zor region.”
While in Syria, he also met “negotiating delegations of the ongoing intra-Kurdish dialogue, and with ranking council members and tribal leaders from the Deir ez-Zor region.”
In Tuesday’s meeting with Jeffrey, Prime Minister Barzani “extended his gratitude to and appreciation for the United States for its continued support and shed light on the situation in Iraq and the region as well as relations between the Kurdistan Region and the federal government.”
Barzani also pointed out that “discussions with Baghdad are ongoing with the aim of reaching a radical solution to the outstanding problems on the basis of the constitution,” and “stressed the need to continue security coordination between the Peshmerga forces and the Iraqi army, specifically in the disputed areas between both sides to counter ISIS threats”
He also brought up his “deep concern” to the visiting delegation “about the ongoing policy of Arabization and aggression on the lands and properties of Kurdish citizens” in disputed territories, claimed both by Erbil and Baghdad.
Jeffrey’s stop in Erbil follows the extended visit to Erbil last week of Ambassador to Iraq Matthew Tueller, during which the US envoy pledged an additional $250 million in security assistance for the Peshmerga.
And Tueller’s trip, itself, followed on the conclusion last month of the second round of the Strategic Dialogue between the US and Iraq. Generally, those discussions worked to Kurdish advantage, as the US stressed the need to abide by Iraq’s 2005 constitution, while it pressed Baghdad to resolve budget issues with Erbil.
In Jeffrey’s meeting with Masoud Barzani, the two discussed multiple issues that included bilateral relations between the US and the Kurdistan Region; the Strategic Dialogue between the US and Iraq, in which the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) is an active participant; the threat of terrorism from the Islamic State; and the future of Kurds in Syria, according to a statement from the KDP leader’s office.
The issue of refugees from Syria and enabling them to return to their homes was also discussed.
Earlier, he met with Nechirvan Barzani and stressed continued US support to the Kurds, both in Syria and Iraq, in combatting the Islamic State.
Jeffrey “reiterated continued US and coalition support for the Kurds and their partners in the fight against ISIS,” in Syria, Iraq, and the Kurdistan Region, read a statement from the regional president’s office.
For that purpose, said Jeffrey, “the US would provide all necessary assistance to the Peshmerga and Iraqi forces.”
Editing by John J. Catherine
Additional reporting by Halgurd Sherwani