Shared views on trou­bled past and hopes for fu­ture

Pres­i­dent Barzani meets North­ern Ire­land lead­ers

The Kurdish Globe - - EDITORIAL -

Pres­i­dent Ma­soud Barzani last week met North­ern Ire­land's First and Deputy First Min­is­ter and the Speaker of the As­sem­bly in his first of­fi­cial visit to Belfast which was hosted by En­ter­prise, Trade and In­vest­ment Min­is­ter Ar­lene Fos­ter.

Th­ese meet­ings and those with other min­is­ters and busi­ness rep­re­sen­ta­tives fo­cused on strength­en­ing ties be­tween the two re­gions through trade.

Mr Barzani, who is on a two-day visit, is ac­com­pa­nied by Dr Fuad Hus­sein, the Pres­i­dent's chief of Staff, Min­is­ter Falah Mustafa, Head of the De­part­ment of For­eign Re­la­tions, Dr Ali Saeed, Min­is­ter of Higher Ed­u­ca­tion, and Bayan Sami Ab­dul Rah­man, the Kur­dis­tan Re­gional Government's Rep­re­sen­ta­tive to the UK.

In their meet­ing, First Min­is­ter Peter Robin­son, Deputy First Min­is­ter Martin McGuin­ness and Pres­i­dent Barzani dis­cussed the po­lit­i­cal sit­u­a­tion in Iraq, the Con­sti­tu­tion as well as events in Syria and the Mid­dle East in gen­eral. They also spoke of the shared trou­bled his­tory of the peo­ple of North­ern Ire­land and Kur­dis­tan and the drive and de­ter­mi­na­tion to live in peace and to build a bet­ter fu­ture. Mr Robin­son and Mr McGuin­ness said that they recog­nised the great suf­fer­ing of the Kur­dish peo­ple.

Pres­i­dent Barzani said, "We have fol­lowed the sit­u­a­tion in North­ern Ire­land for some time be­cause we see sim­i­lar­i­ties. I would like to con­grat­u­late you and wish you success (fol­low­ing the peace process). Ex­pe­ri­ence has proved that with­out se­cu­rity, re­con­struc­tion and devel­op­ment can­not take place. We have over­come ter­ri­ble suf­fer­ing in our his­tory. We would like to learn from your ex­pe­ri­ence and we see ar­eas where we can co­op­er­ate. We have started from scratch and we want our friends to help us in a mu­tu­ally ben­e­fi­cial way."

The First Min­is­ter echoed Mr Barzani's sen­ti­ment and said he hoped that to­gether they could build a good re­la­tion­ship. The Deputy First Min­is­ter told the Pres­i­dent and his del­e­ga­tion, "You ar­rived as strangers but you leave as friends."

Pres­i­dent Barzani also met Speaker Wil­liam Hay who took the Kur­dish del­e­ga­tion on a tour of the Stor­mont par­lia­ment build­ing.

The del­e­ga­tion also vis­ited the Ti­tanic mu­seum which high­lights Belfast's ship-build­ing his­tory. They vis­ited Belfast Met with Em­ploy­ment and Learn­ing Min­is­ter Stephen Farry to hear about the in­sti­tute's higher ed­u­ca­tion and vocational train­ing cour­ses.

In the evening, Mrs Fos­ter hosted a din­ner for the Pres­i­dent and the del­e­ga­tion at Hills­bor­ough Cas­tle, the government guest house. About 100 rep­re­sen­ta­tives of North­ern Ire­land com­pa­nies, the head of In­vest North­ern Ire­land (INI) and sev­eral min­is­ters were also present.

In her speech, Mrs Fos­ter said the re­la­tion­ship be­tween the two re­gions had ex­panded rapidly in the past few years with a mem­o­ran­dum of un­der­stand­ing (MOU) signed last year to pro­mote fur­ther co­op­er­a­tion in sev­eral sec­tors in­clud­ing higher ed­u­ca­tion, tourism and agri­cul­ture. She also high­lighted the grow­ing num­ber of com­pa­nies do­ing busi­ness in Kur­dis­tan. "We clearly wish to build on our part­ner­ships with Kur­dis­tan," she said.

The Pres­i­dent thanked Mrs Fos­ter for the warm wel­come he and the del­e­ga­tion had re­ceived. He said, "Our visit to Belfast shows our com­mit­ment and de­sire to fur­ther de­velop this re­la­tion­ship. There are many ar­eas where we can work to­gether and North­ern Ire­land com­pa­nies are wel­come in Kur­dis­tan."

To­day Pres­i­dent Barzani vis­ited the Agri-Food and Bio­sciences In­sti­tute which has signed an MOU with the KRG's Min­istry of Agri­cul­ture and Water Re­sources.

Mrs Fos­ter has vis­ited Kur­dis­tan twice with INI busi­ness del­e­ga­tions and last year signed an MOU with Min­is­ter Falah Mustafa to pro­mote fur­ther trade. In­vest North­ern Ire­land has vis­ited Kur­dis­tan sev­eral times and Kur­dish del­e­ga­tions have vis­ited Belfast. Pres­i­dent Barzani was of­fi­cially in­vited to Belfast by both the First Min­is­ter and the Deputy First Min­is­ter.

Pres­i­dent Barzani met with North­ern Ire­land lead­ers.

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