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Senior US delegation meets with top Kurdish officials, leaders

  2021-05-05  | 
 Zhyan News Network
White House Coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa Brett McGurk (C) meets with Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) Co-President Lahur Sheikh Jangi and Bafel Talabani in Sulaimani, Kurdistan Region, Iraq, May 5,2021. Photo by PUK Co-President Bafel Talabani Media Office
 Zhyan News Network

SULAIMANI – A first high-level US delegation from President Joe Biden met with the senior Kurdish government officials and political leaders in the Kurdistan Region and discussed an array of hot topics, on top of cooperation between the US-led Coalition, Kurdistan Region and Iraq to counter threats posed by Islamic State (ISIS) militants.

The delegation was led by White House Coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa Brett McGurk, a well-known official for his cordial ties with the Kurds as he was the former US envoy for the global coalition to defeat the ISIS. 

State Department Counselor Derek Chollet, Acting Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs Joey Hood and Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Middle East Dana Stroul were among the delegates. 

The delegation emphasized the US’s support to the Peshmerga forces in countering “terror threats” especially those posed by ISIS militants, Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Prime Minister Masrour Barzani’s media office said. 

“The relations between the Kurdistan Region and the federal government, the upcoming Iraqi election and the Strategic Dialogue between Iraq and the US and the importance of the implementation of Sinjar Agreement were other sectors of the meeting,” the media office reported. 

On April 7, Iraq and US held the third round of strategic dialogue virtually and they decided to move the remaining US troops in Iraq in phases. The last two rounds took place in March and June under former US president Donald Trump administration.

In meeting with Kurdistan President Nechirvan Barzani, they agreed that the ISIS militant group still is “a serious threat” in the region that is requited “joint work and cooperation for the sake of security and stability in the region.”

The delegation arrived in Sulaimani in the evening and met with Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) Co-Presidents Lahur Sheikh Jangi and Bafel Talabani.

“We thoroughly discussed the latest political, economic, and security developments in Iraq, Kurdistan, and the region, and the ways to expand the bilateral relations," said Sheikh Jangi’s media office. 

The PUK co-presidents emphasized unity and reconciliation between the political parties in the Region as “an important factor to develop the strong political process of the Kurdish position in Baghdad, according to the media office.

“In this regard, we considered the formation of a broad national front as important for one voice and one stance on the issues of national interests,” it said. 

The US delegation also met with Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) leader Masoud Barzani.

Iraq is slated to hold an early election on October 10. 

“Regarding the upcoming Iraqi elections, we emphasized on a clean and fair election that is far from interference,” the PUK official stated during the meeting. 

The PUK and Change Movement will run in a unified electoral list, while other Kurdish political parties are run through separate lists.

On Tuesday, the US high-profile delegation arrived in Baghdad and meet with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi and President Barham Salih and the withdrawal of about 2,500 US troops in Iraq was one of the hot topics. 

Iraq is viewed as a battleground for Iran and US conflicts. The relations between Iraq and the US were thrown into disarray following the killing of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani and Iraqi Shia militia leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis just outside the Baghdad airport in early June last year.

The Iraqi parliament, spurred by the Shia blocks, passed a non-binding resolution following the attack to expel US-led Coalition forces from the country.

Usually claimed by shadowy groups, rocket attacks hit the US interests and bases in Iraq and the Kurdistan Region. The US, its western allies and Kurdish officials blame the aerial attacks on Iran-backed militia groups. 

(Zhyan English)