US Secretary of State visits Kurdistan Region for meetings with officials

Met with Masoud, Nechirvan Barzani

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SULAIMANI — US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived in Erbil on Wednesday (January 9) to meet with Kurdish officials.

Pompeo met with Kurdistan Democratic Party President Masoud Barzani before meeting with Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani and Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani.

“The US will remain as a partner of Iraq and the Kurdistan Region,” Pompeo said after arriving in the city.

According to a statement published on the KRG's official website, Pompeo expressed his pleasure about visiting the Kurdistan Region for the first time.

During his meeting with the prime minister and deputy prime minister, the US diplomat encouraged the ongoing negotiations between the Kurdistan Region and the central government.

According to a readout of the meeting released by the State Department, Pompeo "voiced strong US support for continued dialogue between the KRG and the central government and continued progress on both security and economic reforms."

"The Secretary reiterated the importance of Washington’s strategic partnership with Iraq and our longstanding friendship with the KRG," it added.

Nechirvan Barzani said that the Kurdistan Region is supportive of Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mahdi’s government despite the problems between Baghdad and Erbil, emphasizing that there had been positive conversations between the two.

Nechirvan Barzani thanked the US for assisting the KRG during difficult times and said that he hoped that there would be continued cooperation between the US and the Kurdistan Region, especially in the realm of counterterrorism.

Prime Minister Barzani tweeted on Wednesday evening: "I’m pleased to welcome U.S. Secretary of State @SecPompeo to Erbil. We had a productive meeting on further strengthening bilateral ties and discussed latest developments in the region."

Earlier in the day, Pompeo made an unannounced visit to Baghdad, where he met with President Barham Salih, Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mahdi, Parliament Speaker Mohammed al-Halbusi, and Foreign Minister Mohammed Ali al-Hakim.

(NRT Digital Media)

This story was updated at 12:05am on 10/1/2019 EBL.