KRG delegation meets senior administration officials in Washington
President Masoud Barzani’s Chief of Staff, Dr Fuad Hussein, and Head of the KRG Department of Foreign Relations, Minister Falah Mustafa Bakir, concluded their official trip to Washington with several key meetings today.
The delegation visited the White House to meet with Deputy National Security Advisor Tony Blinken, where they discussed the growing threat posed by the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). Dr Hussein conveyed the gratitude of Kurdistan’s people and leadership to the President of the United States. In the meeting, the importance of continuing and intensifying US-led airstrikes was raised, along with the provision of further support for Kurdistan’s Peshmerga forces. The delegation pointed to the need for military equipment, intelligence sharing, and training in order to degrade and destroy the terrorist group.
At the Pentagon, Dr Fuad and Minister Mustafa met with Assistant Secretary of Defence Derek Chollet and other senior defence officials. They urged the US administration to directly arm Peshmerga forces with heavy weaponry. After several Iraqi Army divisions collapsed in June, ISIS terrorists captured Americanmade military equipment and are well armed with vehicles capable of withstanding light arms attacks. The delegation noted that the US Government considers ISIS a threat to Kurdistan, the Middle East, and the world, and while they were in Washington Secretary of Defence Hagel testified before Congress that ISIS poses an imminent threat to every interest that America has. The KRG seeks modern, heavy weaponry to continue defeating ISIS terrorists on the battlefield.
At the State Department, Dr Hussein and Minister Mustafa met Ms Anne C Richard, Assistant Secretary of Population, Refugees, and Migration, to work on policies and strategies to better provide humanitarian relief for the 1.4 million refugees and IDPs sheltered in the Kurdistan Region. They discussed political and security issues with Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Middle East Gerald Feierstein. Combating terrorism financing was the topic in a meeting with Deputy Assistant Secretary for Counter-Threat Finance and Sanctions Peter Harrell. Both sides agreed to cooperate on a number of fronts to disrupt and deplete ISIS financing. A counter-threat finance and sanctions delegation will be visiting the Kurdistan Region in the coming days to arrange further collaboration in this regard.
The delegation was invited to a private lunch by Iraqi Ambassador to Washington Lukman Faily. He asked the delegation to convey, on behalf of the people of Iraq, his gratitude to the Peshmerga forces for taking the offensive against ISIS and hosting more than one million Iraqi IDPs.