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President Barzani answers press questions after visit to Iran

President Barzani answers press questions after visit to Iran

President Nechirvan Barzani held a press conference in Tehran on Tuesday afternoon to discuss the situation in Iraq, the Kurdistan Region and the wider region in general.

The following is a readout of the President’s remarks:

The President said: “Our visit to the Islamic Republic of Iran was positive and we are confident that it will mark the beginning of a new chapter in the relationship between the Kurdistan Region and Iran. We were warmly welcomed by the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution, the President, the Speaker of Parliament, and the Secretary of the National Security Council. The meetings were highly productive. We share a rich history with Iran, especially after the victory of the Revolution, and even now we have numerous important ries between the Kurdistan Region and Iran. They have been supportive of us. Naturally, there are challenges along the way. It is not that these problems do not exist, but what matters is our commitment to resolving them. The Kurdistan Region also seeks to maintain strong relations with Iran, as they are a crucial neighbor who has always assisted us during difficult times. I believe that both Iran and the Kurdistan Region are determined to address these issues. The Kurdistan Region’s unwavering policy is to be a source of stability and security in the region, and we will continue to uphold this policy.”

In response to a question about holding the Kurdistan parliamentary elections and discussing the issue with senior officials of the Islamic Republic of Iran, President Nechirvan Barzani said, “The timing of the elections in the Kurdistan Region has not been a topic of discussion during our meetings in Tehran. While the date remains unchanged, the focus is on ensuring that the elections are conducted smoothly. The purpose of these elections is to unite efforts in serving all citizens of the Kurdistan Region. As the President of the Kurdistan Region, my duty is not to favor any particular party, but to safeguard the interests of the Region. It is crucial that these interests do not lead to further division. Despite differing party interests, my responsibility remains to protect the overall interests of the Kurdistan Region. Although the date remains the same, my aim is to facilitate an election that garners consensus from all parties involved. I aspire for an election where no party feels like a loser or a winner, and where there is no room for scoring points against each other. I express gratitude to Baghdad, the Prime Minister, the Federal Court, [Chief Justice] Fayeq Zedan, and all those involved in the efforts to maintain unity within the Kurdistan Region. Measures must be taken to prevent any further division, hence the decision to set a date. Despite claims of date changes, the fact remains that the date has not been altered.”

Regarding the issues between Erbil and Baghdad and the role of Iran in resolving those matters, the Kurdistan Region President said, “We are now embarking on a new phase of our relationship, which necessitates close monitoring. In the event of any difficulties that may arise, it is imperative that we engage in dialogue and foster understanding. Over the past few months, we have been diligently working in Baghdad, and we owe our gratitude to the Iraqi Prime Minister, Mr. al-Sudani, for his invaluable assistance in this matter. The officials of the Islamic Republic of Iran have consistently expressed their commitment to facilitating an agreement between both parties and resolving any outstanding issues. We have witnessed this dedication from all the officials of Iran, who have proven to be friends to both sides. Their objective is to find a resolution to the disputes between the Kurdistan Region and Baghdad. As a mutual friend, we have naturally sought their assistance in resolving these matters.”

Regarding the content of the meeting with the Iranian Leader, the expected visit of the Iranian President to Baghdad, his invitation to Erbil, and the Iranian media’s spotlight on his visit to Tehran, President Nechirvan Barzani said, “I had the privilege of meeting the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, which was a truly remarkable experience. The meeting was highly productive, and I found the Leader to be extremely gracious. It was evident that he strongly supports the Kurds, both in general and specifically in the Kurdistan Region and Iraq. Unfortunately, I am unable to delve into the specifics of our discussion with the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran. As for the President of Iran, our conversation did touch upon his upcoming visit to Baghdad. I am hopeful that he will accept my official invitation to also visit the Kurdistan Region during his trip to Baghdad. I believe he took this invitation seriously and will carefully consider it in due time, taking into account the prevailing circumstances. His response was positive, indicating a willingness to accept the invitation. While I haven’t had the chance to review the headlines, it is important to emphasize that the Kurdistan Region plays a peaceful and stabilizing role in the region. This remains one of our top priorities as the Kurdistan Region.”

In response to another question about the security situation in the region, President Nechirvan Barzani said, “Several of our meetings have focused on this matter. It is worth noting that we have established a security committee with Iraq, which includes the Kurdistan Regional Government’s representative, Mr. Rebar Ahmed, who serves as the Interior Minister of the Kurdistan Region. Mr. Ahmed has actively participated in these meetings alongside our delegation. Throughout today’s discussions, it was evident that the attendees expressed gratitude for the Interior Minister’s efforts in enhancing security. However, I would like to emphasize the fundamental principle underlying this. The Kurdistan Region is committed to not posing a threat to its neighboring countries. It is crucial to understand that no armed forces, under any circumstances or name, should enter Iranian territory from the Kurdistan Region and then return to the Kurdistan Region. Such actions are not recognized by international law. This principle applies to our relations with Turkey, Iran, and Syria. Our Interior Minister has addressed many of Iran’s security concerns on multiple occasions. While there is still work to be done, we are confident that we are on the right path to fully resolving this issue. We hope that all parties involved will comprehend the situation in the Kurdistan Region, and we are grateful that they have already shown understanding. Our hope is that they will continue to grasp the situation and progress towards a resolution. It is important to note that this matter should not be the sole focus of meetings between the Kurdistan Region and Iran.”

Regarding the new stage between the Kurdistan Region and the Islamic Republic of Iran, its impact on the political, economic and security situation in the region, and the agreements between Erbil and Baghdad, the President of the Kurdistan Region said, “Several factors and elements arose that led to those concerns. But from my perspective, the crucial point is that few meetings have taken place between the parties involved. Regardless of the challenges faced, holding meetings and applying the mechanisms agreed with Tehran is essential. Problems should be prevented, not put aside and attempts made to resolve them after the event. Currently, we have reached an agreement on a mechanism, the details of which I will not delve into here. However, we have agreed in principle on that mechanism, it should be put it in writing, and we agreed on how to implement it. As the Kurdistan Region, this will undoubtedly impact our trade sector, the security of our people, and the movement of citizens between the Kurdistan Region and Iran. These factors hold great significance for us. In my meetings in Tehran, both the Kurdistan Regional Government and the citizens of the Kurdistan Region were greatly appreciated for the warm welcome given to pilgrims passing through Kurdistan Region for the commemoration of Imam Hussein in Karbala. When a country experiences such traffic, its economy flourishes, people feel secure, and trade thrives. This mutually benefits both the Kurdistan Region and Iran. It marks a new beginning for us. We will establish a fresh agreement and devise a new mechanism to enhance our relations, ensuring that no further problems arise between us in the future. Regarding Iran’s role in implementing the agreement between the Kurdistan Region and Baghdad, it is worth noting that I recently visited Baghdad and held meetings with the Prime Minister and the Chief Justice of the Federal Court. I have repeatedly emphasized the Kurdistan Regional Government’s commitment to its implementation. We anticipate that the agreement will address salary-related matters, and we strive to prevent a recurrence of such issues. During the trilateral meeting, the Prime Minister, the Chief Justice of the Federal Court, and I agreed on the principle that despite the problems between the Kurdistan Region and Baghdad, the salaries of the Kurdistan Region should not be mired in the disputes between the two governments. During a meeting with Prime Minister Sudani, the Chief Justice stressed this point, which was also emphasized by me and the other two individuals present. I am optimistic that we will find a solution.”

In response to a question about the demands of the Kurdistan Region and the Islamic Republic of Iran on security issues and more cooperation between Erbil and Tehran, President Nechirvan Barzani said, “Indeed, we also have made requests regarding security matters and these requests will be addressed in the security committee by the Kurdistan Region’s representative, who is the KRG Interior Minister In my meetings, we clearly raised the matters that are causing apprehension for the Kurdistan Region, and these concerns will be discussed also through the framework of the mechanism that I previously mentioned. On cultural and other ties, our primary focus at the moment is to resolve these issues and dispel any concerns or challenges that currently exist, and then certainly we will turn to those other areas. We anticipate that these problems will be resolved amicably, considering our close proximity as neighboring entities. We have the opportunity to foster positive relations with the Islamic Republic in various domains such as culture, higher education, and all other areas.”

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