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Barzani to Meet Merkel in Berlin

Barzani to Meet Merkel in Berlin

Saturday, 16 December, 2017 - 09:15
Kurdish region's Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani speaks during a news conference in Erbil, Iraq. Reuters

Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Nechirvan Barzani will visit Germany on Monday, where he will meet with Chancellor Angela Merkel.

German Deputy Government Spokesman Georg Streiter announced the visit on Friday, adding that the two leaders will discuss the fight against ISIS as well as German involvement in the region.

Notably, the German army, the Bundeswehr, is currently involved in training the Kurdish Peshmerga, and last Tuesday, the German parliament, the Bundestag, extended the Bundeswehr’s training mission.

The task was temporarily suspended due to the escalating dispute over the independence referendum organized by the Kurdistan region at the end of September, according to DPA, the German News Agency.

Barzani's upcoming visit to the country is his second since the independence referendum, following his visit to France two weeks ago at the invitation of President Emmanuel Macron.

On the other hand, Prime Minister of Netherlands Mark Rutte announced on Friday he had held talks with his Iraqi counterpart Haider al-Abadi on the sidelines of the Paris Climate Summit and expressed the importance of reopening the Kurdistan Region airports.

Rutte told a news conference in Brussels that his country is currently discussing extending its work in Iraq to continue providing military supplies for the fight against ISIS through 2018, according to Rudaw.

We seek to have a role in the reopening of international airports northern Iraq, especially in Irbil, Rutte stressed.

The Federal Government of Iraq has banned the international flights from and to both Irbil and Sulaimani airports in the Kurdistan Region since Sep. 29. The ban came as a collective punitive measure against the Kurdistan Region in retaliation for the referendum on independence held on Sep. 25 in the region which won an overwhelming majority of ‘Yes’ vote.

For his part, Donald Trump’s National Security Adviser General Herbert McMaster affirmed that the United States is very committed to the success of the Kurds in Iraq.

Speaking at an annual conference of the Jamestown Foundation, McMaster stated that resolving the problems between the Kurdistan Regional Government and Iraq “is a big priority for President Trump and for Secretary Tillerson and the whole team.”

McMaster noted that beginning in 1991, with Operation Provide Comfort (OPC), “We helped prevent further atrocities and brutality aimed at the Kurdish populations in Northern Iraq.”

OPC continued for another 12 years, until 2003, when the US-led coalition overthrew Saddam Hussein’s regime in Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF).

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