PM Barzani vis­its UK, meets se­nior Bri­tish of­fi­cials

Di­rect flight be­tween Lon­don and Kur­dis­tan dis­cussed with Min­is­ter of Trans­port

The Kurdish Globe - - FRONT PAGE -

Kur­dis­tan Re­gion’s Prime Min­is­ter Nechir­van Barzani vis­ited UK last week and met sev­eral high rank­ing UK of­fi­cials.

PM Barzani and his ac­com­pa­ny­ing del­e­ga­tion met with Bri­tish For­eign Sec­re­tary Wil­liam Hague to dis­cuss bi­lat­eral re­la­tions and cur­rent po­lit­i­cal is­sues.

Speak­ing af­ter the meet­ing, For­eign Sec­re­tary Hague said, "I was pleased to wel­come Kur­dis­tan Re­gional Govern­ment Prime Min­is­ter Barzani to Lon­don to­day. The Prime Min­is­ter's visit is a chance to cel­e­brate the warm re­la­tions be­tween the UK and the Kur­dis­tan Re­gion of Iraq, with links in ar­eas as di­verse as trade, ed­u­ca­tion, and cul­ture, and to reaf­firm the UK's de­sire to re­main the Re­gion's part­ner of choice on all of these is­sues."

Prime Min­is­ter Barzani ex­pressed his full sup­port for the KRG's ro­bust and mu­tu­ally ben­e­fi­cial part­ner­ship with the United King­dom. Speak­ing af­ter meet­ing the For­eign Sec­re­tary, he said, "This meet­ing was an im­por­tant step in so­lid­i­fy­ing an al­ready suc­cess­ful part­ner­ship with the UK, as well as ex­plor­ing new av­enues for co­op­er­a­tion. We highly value this re­la­tion­ship and are pleased to see it progress in this way."

The Prime Min­is­ter dis­cussed re­la­tions be­tween Er­bil and Bagh­dad, the po­lit­i­cal de­vel­op­ments in Iraq and through­out the Mid­dle East, and the press­ing mat­ter of the Syr­ian refugee cri­sis, in­clud­ing the role of the Kur­dis­tan Re­gion as a safe haven for thou­sands of Syr­ian refugees.

The For­eign Sec­re­tary lauded the suc­cess of the Kur­dis­tan Re­gion, stat­ing, "I con­grat­u­lated the Prime Min­is­ter on the progress that has been made in the Kur­dis­tan Re­gion over re­cent years, and the rel­a­tive sta­bil­ity and se­cu­rity that has been achieved de­spite the vi­o­lence in other parts of Iraq, and in neigh­bor­ing Syria."

Dur­ing the meet­ing both sides dis­cussed the lat­est po­lit­i­cal de­vel­op­ments in Iraq, in­clud­ing the re­cent elec­tions, and the forth­com­ing govern­ment for­ma­tion process. The re­gional govern­ment for­ma­tion process in the Kur­dis­tan was also an im­por­tant topic. Prime Min­is­ter Barzani em­pha­sised the value of in­clud­ing the main Kur­dish po­lit­i­cal par­ties to re­flect a truly in­clu­sive and rep­re­sent govern­ment. The meet­ing was at­tended by Hugh Robertson, The Bri­tish Min­is­ter of State for the Mid­dle East, the Bri­tish Am­bas­sador to Iraq, and a num­ber of Bri­tish ad­vi­sors and of­fi­cials.

Both sides also dis­cussed ways to con­sol­i­date and strengthen re­la­tions be­tween Er­bil and Lon­don, par­tic­u­larly in re­gard to trade, in­vest­ment, and cul­tural and ed­u­ca­tional ex­change, in ad­di­tion to co­op­er­a­tion be­tween of­fi­cial Bri­tish and Kur­dish in­sti­tu­tions. They spoke about the im­por­tance of com­menc­ing di­rect flights be­tween Er­bil and Lon­don as well as de­vel­op­ing a clear mech­a­nism which would en­sure se­nior­level fol­low up and im­ple­men­ta­tion of agree­ments.

Later that evening the Kur­dish del­e­ga­tion met mem­bers of par­lia­ment from var­i­ous Bri­tish po­lit­i­cal par­ties at a din­ner held in honor of the vis­it­ing del­e­ga­tion, which in­cluded Min­is­ter of Nat­u­ral Re­sources Ashti Har­wami, Min­is­ter of Plan­ning Ali Sindi, Min­is­ter of Hous­ing and Re­con­struc­tion and Act­ing Head of the Board of In­vest­ment Ka­ma­ran Ahmed, Head of the KRG Depart­ment of Fol­low Up and Co­or­di­na­tion Min­is­ter Qubad Tal­a­bani, Head of the KRG Depart­ment of For­eign Re­la­tions Min­is­ter Falah Mustafa, KRG Spokesper­son Min­is­ter Safeen Diza­yee, KRG Rep­re­sen­ta­tive to the UK Bayan Sami Ab­dul Rah­man and var­i­ous ad­vi­sors.

The Kur­dish del­e­ga­tion also met with the Mayor of Lon­don, Boris John­son. Mayor John­son wel­comed the Prime Min­is­ter and his del­e­ga­tion and said that the visit would serve as a good op­por­tu­nity to fur­ther re­la­tions be­tween the cities of Lon­don and Er­bil as well as Bri­tain and the Kur­dis­tan Re­gion. The Prime Min­is­ter dis­cussed the grow­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for busi­ness and in­vest­ment in Kur­dis­tan, de­scrib­ing the cur­rent eco­nomic boom as a new chap­ter af­ter decades of eco­nomic ne­glect. Both sides noted the many ar­eas in which Er­bil can learn from Lon­don's ex­pe­ri­ence as a global cap­i­tal and a leading fi­nan­cial hub.

PM Barzani pointed to the value of di­rect re­la­tions be­tween the city ad­min­is­tra­tions of Er­bil and Lon­don, ex­tend­ing to Mayor John­son an of­fi­cial in­vi­ta­tion to visit Er­bil with a del­e­ga­tion of com­pa­nies in­ter­ested in op­er­at­ing in Kur­dis­tan. The Prime Min­is­ter said that Bri­tish com­pa­nies with ex­per­tise in tourism, in­fra­struc­ture de­vel­op­ment, oil and gas, fi­nan­cial ser­vices, and other sec­tors would find great op­por­tu­ni­ties in Kur­dis­tan, as would in­vestors.

In the last day of the visit the del­e­ga­tion met with the Bri­tish Min­is­ter of Trans­port and State for In­ter­na­tional Co­op­er­a­tion. A state­ment by the Kur­dis­tan Re­gional Govern­ment cited that, “Barzani dis­cussed with Trans­port Min­is­ter, Robert Kwd­well, re­la­tions be­tween Kur­dis­tan Re­gion and Bri­tain and ways of en­hanc­ing them in var­i­ous fields, es­pe­cially in the field of trans­port and com­mu­ni­ca­tions, where the two sides stressed the im­por­tance of launch­ing a di­rect air route be­tween Lon­don and Er­bil which would play an ac­tive role in the ex­pan­sion of cul­tural and so­cial re­la­tions.” “For his part, Barzani ex­pressed readi­ness to sup­port the idea of co­op­er­a­tion and pro­vide all forms of fa­cil­i­ties by the provin­cial govern­ment to link Er­bilLon­don via air route. The state­ment noted that the last leg of Barzani’s visit was to meet with Min­is­ter of State for In­ter­na­tional Co­op­er­a­tion Dunkin and dis­cussed with him the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion in the re­gion in gen­eral, as well as the sit­u­a­tion of dis­placed per­sons from ar­eas of cen­tral Iraq to the Kur­dis­tan re­gion and al­le­vi­ate their suf­fer­ing and pro­vide as­sis­tance to them by the provin­cial govern­ment,” the state­ment added.

The last meet­ing of Prime Min­is­ter Barzani’s visit to the United King­dom was with Min­is­ter of State for In­ter­na­tional De­vel­op­ment Alan Dun­can. Both sides dis­cussed the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion in the re­gion as a whole as well as the sit­u­a­tion of the in­ter­nally dis­placed per­sons who have fled to the Kur­dis­tan Re­gion from other prov­inces of Iraq. They also dis­cussed the Syr­ian refugees in Kur­dis­tan and the level of as­sis­tance and ser­vices pro­vided to refugees by the KRG. Min­is­ter Dun­can praised the ef­forts of the KRG in wel­com­ing and ac­com­mo­dat­ing these refugees in ad­di­tion to pro­vid­ing them with aid, health and ed­u­ca­tion ser­vices.

Kur­dish Prime Min­is­ter asked the Min­is­ter of State for In­ter­na­tional De­vel­op­ment to en­cour­age Bri­tish and in­ter­na­tional char­i­ta­ble and non-gov­ern­men­tal or­ga­ni­za­tions to in­crease their op­er­a­tions in Kur­dis­tan to pro­vide refugees and in­ter­nally dis­placed per­sons with hu­man­i­tar­ian aid in co­or­di­na­tion with the Kur­dis­tan Re­gion Govern­ment. The amount of ex­ter­nal aid cur­rently pro­vided does not match the needs of refugees, as the Iraqi federal govern­ment has con­trib­uted lit­tle aid. The KRG has pro­vided mil­lions of dol­lars in as­sis­tance and in-kind sup­port, in­clud­ing hous­ing hun­dreds of thou­sands of refugees, an ef­fort warmly noted by Min­is­ter Dun­can.

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