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US ambassador meets with Kurdish leaders in Erbil

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — The US Ambassador to Iraq Matthew Tueller met with Kurdistan Region President Nechirvan Barzani on Monday, discussing Peshmerga ministry reforms, the fight against terrorism, and Iraq’s upcoming elections, according to a statement from the presidency. 

He also met with Prime Minister Masrour Barzani. 

Tueller and the president “talked about the situation in Iraq and Kurdistan Region and the region as a whole, as well as the US relations with Iraq and the Kurdistan Region,” said the statement, in addition to terrorism and the threat of the Islamic State (ISIS), “snap elections in Iraq, the future of political process in the country, and the role and policy of the new American administration in Iraq and the Middle East.” 

“Prime Minister Masrour Barzani met with US Ambassador to Iraq Mathew Tueller on Monday to review the latest developments in Iraq and region,” read a statement from the PM’s office. “Both sides emphasized the importance of continuing the reform process within the Peshmerga ministry, and the coalition’s support for the Peshmerga forces in the fight against terrorism.”

Tueller and Barzani both addressed the importance of fair elections, it added. 

The American delegation met earlier in the day with Masoud Barzani, former president of the Kurdistan Region and current leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party. 

They also discussed Peshmerga reforms and Iraq’s elections. 

“The US ambassador offered his condolences to President Barzani for the martyrdom of the Peshmergas killed by the PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party) fighters recently,” Barzani’s office said. “He also emphasized that the stability of Kurdistan Region and Iraq is of special importance for their country, and that the Kurdistan Region is an example of stability and development compared to other parts of Iraq.”

Cooperation between the Peshmerga forces and Iraqi army in the fight against terrorism was another topic of discussion, along with the quality of education in Kurdistan Region universities.

The US provides millions of dollars of aid to the Peshmerga, which is a key ally in the fight against the Islamic State (ISIS).

The ambassador’s visit came after he attended a graduation ceremony of the American University of Kurdistan in Duhok on Sunday.

“Some of you represent communities that have overcome discrimination and oppression, some of you are the first in your families to attend college, there are others here who have had to flee their homeland as refugees and of course many of you have experienced firsthand the tragic effects of this terrible pandemic,” he said in a speech at the event. 

“But you carried on, you persevered and accomplished your goals, you graduated, and you probably got to take some of your classes in pajamas too, which goes to show that even a global pandemic has a silver lining,” he added.

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