Iraqi PM Kadhimi calls for ‘national dialogue’ to finalize agreement between Erbil and Baghdad

Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi gives speech on March 8, 2021 (Mustafa la-Kadhimi's media office/Screenshot)

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SULAIMANI — Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi on Monday (March 8) called for “national dialogue” in order to achieve a breakthrough and seal a comprehensive agreement between the federal government and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).

The agreement would need to preserve “the unity of Iraqi territory and radically address the accumulated problems,” Kadhimi said in a speech reflecting on the lessons of Pope Francis’ recent visit to Iraq and the Kurdistan Region.

Relations between Baghdad and Erbil have been particularly tumultuous since 2014, with persistent disagreements over the budget, the KRG’s independent oil sales, the disputed areas, and the Region’s 2017 independence referendum.

The crisis of the moment is the impasse over the draft 2021 Federal Budget Law with negotiations characterized by low levels of trust on both sides.

Referencing the fraternal theme of the pope’s visit, the prime minister called for a renewed spirit of cooperation in solving the country’s challenges.

“We have lived together for more than six thousand years and we are still together,” he said.

He also urged other countries “to banish the specter of wars, disagreements, and conflicts that will not serve our peoples.”

“The message of our people has reached all the peoples on the earth. We have suffered many wars and blood has spilled on our land.”

(NRT Digital Media)