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KRG takes action to prevent coronavirus outbreak in Kurdistan

Erbil, Kurdistan Region, Iraq (GOV.KRD) – Prime Minister Masrour Barzani and Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani today chaired a cabinet meeting with governors from the Kurdistan Region to discuss recent developments, along with the steps the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) is taking to prevent an outbreak of the coronavirus.

Minister of Health Saman Hussein Muhammed updated the Prime Minister and his cabinet on the latest data regarding the spread of the coronavirus around the world and across the region, and presented immediate actions and measures the KRG is undertaking to prevent the virus from entering the Kurdistan Region.

The KRG Council of Ministers issued several decisions to protect the health of the Kurdistan Region’s citizens, as follows:

• The KRG will deliver up-to-date accurate information and instructions to the public on a daily basis, with the help of media organisations.

• The KRG will declare the period of 26 February to 10 March a public holiday for all public and private schools and kindergartens in the Kurdistan Region. Public and private universities will be closed from 29 February to 10 March. All schools and universities will remain closed during the spring break (10 March – 23 March) before reopening on 24 March. The Ministries of Education and Higher Education and Scientific Research will prepare a schedule that enables students to catch up with their studies.

• The KRG will screen domestic and international tourists entering the Kurdistan Region, in addition to limiting their movements. No one will be permitted to enter the Kurdistan Region without the required medical checks.

• The KRG will ensure people have access to everyday commodities, and that shops in the Kurdistan Region will continue stocking essential goods. The KRG will prevent the price manipulation of essential goods, and take action against anyone who attempts to benefit illegally from this situation.

• The Ministry of Finance and Economy will provide financial support to governorates and local administrations, working closely with the Ministries of Interior and Health.

The KRG is encouraging everyone to help with the implementation of these preventative steps, and to follow instructions and advice provided by healthcare professionals to protect themselves from the coronavirus.

Prime Minister Barzani also briefed ministers on the KRG delegation’s recent series of important meetings with world leaders in Germany, Italy and the Vatican. He provided an update on the latest efforts in Baghdad to form a new federal government, and stressed the Kurdistan Region, as an official and constitutional entity in Iraq, is the only body which can decide on its representatives in the federal government’s cabinet. He added that all Kurdistani political parties in Baghdad were in agreement, and praised them for presenting a united front.

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Statement on President Barzani’s joint meeting with Kurdistan Region’s top officials

Erbil, Kurdistan Region, February 24, 2020

On Monday February 24, Kurdistan Region President Nechirvan Barzani chaired a meeting with the leaders of the main political parties in the Kurdistan Region. The meeting was attended by the Parliament Speaker, the KRG Prime Minister and the Kurdistan Region negotiating team for the formation of the incoming Iraqi federal cabinet.

The meeting discussed the outcomes of the recent visit made by the representatives of Kurdistani political parties to Baghdad, their talks with the Iraqi political parties and Prime Minister- designate Mr. Muhammad Allawi.

Following assessment and discussion of the outcome of the visit and in order to find solutions for the current situation in Iraq and also ensure an active participation in resolving the issues, the meeting reached the following conclusions:

First: We work to form a new government that enjoys the trust of all communities across Iraq, has the ability to solve the current problems in the country, makes serious efforts to restore stability and also makes preparations for an early election.

Second: The steps taken by Mr. Allawi so far have not earned the trust of many Iraqi parties and communities, therefore we ask that his work plan and agenda be revised in a way that the future government will address and meet the demands of all Iraqi communities.

Third: We insist on protecting the constitutional entity of the Kurdistan Region in Iraq and all its constitutional rights including the disputed areas. The Kurdistani communities and the Kurdistan Region’s official institutions are the only legitimate bodies that can designate the representatives of the Kurdistan Region to the Iraqi federal government on the basis of genuine national partnership, consensus and balance.

Fourth: Iraq is now facing serious domestic and foreign challenges and is passing through a dangerous historical turning point. Therefore, we urge all political leaders to join the negotiation table and reach a unified national decision.

Fifth: In order to achieve these objectives, the Kurdistan Region’s delegation will continue talks and exchange of ideas with all Iraqi political parties.

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Prime Minister Masrour Barzani meets Pope Francis at the Vatican

Vatican (GOV.KRD) – Today Prime Minister Masrour Barzani met His Holiness Pope Francis at the Pope’s official residence in the Vatican City.

Prime Minister Barzani discussed with His Holiness the Pope the critical role the Kurdistan Regional Government has played in protecting minorities in the Kurdistan Region, including Christians, from terrorism and persecution. PM Barzani updated Pope Francis on the latest developments in Iraq. The PM also discussed the clear legal and constitutional protections existing today in the Kurdistan Region to ensure the freedom of worship of all citizens. PM Barzani was delighted to take the opportunity to invite His Holiness to visit the Kurdistan Region the next time he travels to Iraq, while discussing the challenges faced by Christians, as well as other religious minorities such as Yezidis, across the wider Middle East region. PM Barzani also had further detailed discussions with the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, during his visit.

On his part, Pope Francis thanked PM Barzani for the leading role the KRG has taken in supporting refugees fleeing conflict in Syria and Iraq, providing a haven of coexistence for all faiths, and for the leadership the KRG has taken in demonstrating a culture of tolerance and understanding towards all ethnic and religious groups.

Following his meetings with the Pope, PM Barzani said:

“It was a pleasure to meet His Holiness Pope Francis today. We discussed the challenges faced by Christians across the Middle East in the face of the evils of ISIS, and agreed that the Kurdistan Region is a beacon of tolerance – a land of co-existence – in a turbulent region. Every one of our citizens is entitled to freedom of worship and that will remain central to my government’s plans for our region’s development in the years to come.”

PM Barzani led a delegation to The Vatican including: Dana Hamasalih, Minister of Housing and Reconstruction; Ano Jawhar Abdoka, Minister of Transport and Communications; Pshtiwan Sadq, Minister of Endowment and Religious Affairs; and Khalid Shwani, Minister of State.

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Prime Minister Masrour Barzani meets Italian Prime Minister in Rome

Rome, Italy (GOV.KRD) – Today Prime Minister Barzani met Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte for high-level bilateral talks.

PM Barzani thanked PM Conte for Italy’s staunch support in the fight against ISIS, including through training Peshmerga, and also police training provided by the Italian carabinieri. PM Barzani outlined the ambitious reform programme the KRG is pursuing, not least to enable foreign investors, including Italian companies, to invest and do business more easily in the Kurdistan Region.

PM Barzani will continue his bilateral discussions in Rome tomorrow, holding further talks with the Italian Foreign and Defence Ministers.

Speaking after his meeting with PM Conte, Prime Minister Barzani said:

“I am delighted to be in Rome to meet Prime Minister Conte today. I took the chance to thank Italy for its support in the fight against terrorism, including support to the Peshmerga as well as police training, while also noting that a serious threat from ISIS remains: we must keep up the pressure.

“I also underlined the range of trade and investment opportunities available to our Italian friends, and look forward to growing our bilateral trade relationship in the years to come.”

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Prime Minister Masrour Barzani on visit to Rome and Vatican City

Erbil, Kurdistan Region, Iraq (GOV.KRD) – Prime Minister Masrour Barzani has arrived today in Rome for a two-day visit to the Italian capital and Vatican City.

Prime Minister Barzani is leading a KRG delegation including Dana Abdulkareem Hamasalih, Minister of Housing and Reconstruction; Ano Jawhar Abdulmaseeh Abdoka, Minister of Transport and Communications; Pshtiwan Sadq Abdullah, Minister of Endowment & Religious Affairs; and Khalid Salam Saeed, Minister of State.

In Rome, Prime Minister Barzani will hold bilateral meetings with senior members of the Italian government, including Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, to discuss ongoing bilateral cooperation in the fight against global terrorism. They will also consider ways of encouraging Italian companies to seize the business opportunities available in Kurdistan by investing in the region.

At the Vatican, Prime Minister Barzani will meet His Holiness Pope Francis and Secretary of State Pietro Parolin to discuss the Kurdistan Region’s commitment to countering religious persecution and promoting interreligious dialogue.

Ahead of his visit, Prime Minister Barzani said: “I am delighted to be meeting His Holiness the Pope to discuss the importance of religious coexistence, which can be a valuable antidote to extremism. I am proud that the KRG has made such a major contribution through our long-standing efforts to promote interreligious dialogue, while creating a haven of tolerance in the Kurdistan Region for people of all faiths.”

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Prime Minister Masrour Barzani meets Germany’s Minister of State

Munich, Germany (GOV.KRD) – Prime Minister Masrour Barzani today met with Germany’s Minister of State at the Federal Foreign Office, Niels Annen, during the Munich Security Conference.

Discussing the latest developments in Iraq and the region, both sides agreed to further strengthen bilateral ties between the Kurdistan Region and Germany.

Prime Minister Barzani acknowledged Germany’s role as part of the Global Coalition against ISIS, and stressed the importance of continued German support for the Peshmerga and Iraqi security forces, as they tackle the growing terrorist threat.

Minister Annen recognised the stability and prosperity in the Kurdistan Region, calling it a role model of governance in Iraq and the region.

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Prime Minister Barzani discusses regional tensions and economic opportunities with world leaders during second day of Munich Security Conference

Munich, Germany (GOV.KRD) – Prime Minister Masrour Barzani today continued meeting counterparts, senior ministers and officials from around the world at the Munich Security Conference.

In the morning, Prime Minister Barzani’s meetings included discussions with US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper; Kuwait’s Prime Minister, Sheikh Sabah al-Khaled al-Hamad al-Sabah; and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

Later on, the Prime Minister met Ahmed Aboul Gheit, the Arab League’s Secretary General; Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte; Ayman Safadi, Jordan’s Minister of Foreign Affairs; Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohamed Al-Hakim and National Security Advisor Falih al-Fayyadh; Harit Singh Sajjan, Canada’s Minister of National Defense; and French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian.

He also met a US Congressional delegation led by Senator Lindsey Graham, as well as delegations from the German parliament.

Throughout the day, a commonly discussed priority was the ongoing support provided by the United States and other allies in maintaining the Global Coalition’s fight against ISIS.

Prime Minister Barzani stressed that the recent changes to ISIS’ leadership have not reduced the threat posed by the terrorists. Kurdistan needs the support of its allies to protect its borders, while improving regional security, so growing numbers of people can live their lives in peace.

Following his meeting with the Prime Minister, Secretary Esper commented: “I reaffirmed the US commitment to our defense relationship and recognized the KRG as a reliable, capable partner in our effort to ensure the lasting defeat of ISIS.”

Other important discussions concerned the need to de-escalate tensions in Syria, while working towards a permanent political settlement that respects the rights of all Syria’s peoples, including the Kurds.

In his meetings with regional partners, Prime Minister Barzani called for stronger trade links with Kurdistan and greater assistance in looking after internally displaced peoples. He also highlighted the importance of a united approach in promoting stability and tackling ISIS.

On economic matters, Prime Minister Barzani focused on Kurdistan’s desire to develop stronger international trading relations, and highlighted the growing investment opportunities for regional and overseas businesses within the Kurdistan Region.

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Kurdistan Region President meets with Iraq’s Foreign Minister

Erbil, Kurdistan Region, February 10, 2020

On Monday February 10, Kurdistan Region President Nechirvan Barzani received Iraq’s Foreign Minister Muhammad Ali al-Hakeem in Erbil, Kurdistan Region.

In the meeting, the president and the foreign minister discussed the latest developments in Iraq as well as the ongoing demonstrations in the Iraqi capital Baghdad and other provinces. They also shed light on the legitimate demands of the protesters for basic services, better future and decent living-standards. The two sides also spoke about the violent handling of the protesters and reiterated the need to seriously bring an end to the violence against demonstrators and to address their grievances.

President Barzani and Foreign Minister Al-Hakeem emphasized the need to resolve the pending issues and to deescalate the tensions in Iraq as well as restoring peace and stability in the country and bringing the political process back to the right path.

The dangers of terror resurgence and ISIS movements in several Iraqi areas and the importance of the international coalition’s role in assisting Iraq and the Kurdistan Region in countering terrorism were also put to discussion. The president and the foreign minister also spoke about the efforts aimed at forming the incoming Iraqi cabinet and the situation in the wider region.

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A statement from Kurdistan Region President

Erbil, Kurdistan Region, January 27, 2020

The President of the Kurdistan Region Nechirvan Barzani condemned the recent attack against the United States Embassy in the Iraqi capital, in a statement released today. Below is the full statement:

We condemn the rocket attack that targeted the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad last night. These actions threaten Iraq’s stability and interests, and if continued, they will have severe consequences on the country.

Protecting the security of diplomatic missions is the duty of the Iraqi authorities. Violating the international rules and regulations by targeting diplomats and diplomatic missions must be prevented. We reiterate that Iraq should not become a battleground for regional and international forces.

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President Nechirvan Barzani and U.S. President Donald Trump discuss developments in Iraq and the region

Erbil, Kurdistan Region, Wednesday January 22, 2020

U.S. President Donald Trump described the people of Kurdistan as a great people and said, ‘We are indebted to you.’ The U.S. President also reiterated the gratitude and appreciation of his country for the Kurdistan Region and the Peshmerga for their role in defeating ISIS and protecting ethnic and religious communities in Kurdistan.

On Wednesday January 22, in Davos, Switzerland, the Kurdistan Region President and the U.S. President held a meeting in which they discussed the situation in Iraq as well as Kurdistan Region’s relations with the United States.

They discussed energy cooperation, Erbil-Baghdad ties, the danger of the resurgence of terrorism and how to confront it. They also discussed developments in the broader Middle East, Kurdistan Region’s relations with regional countries and the situation in Syria.

In the meeting, Kurdistan Region President, on behalf of the people of Kurdistan, expressed his gratitude and appreciation to President Trump and the United States for supporting the Kurdistan Region in the fight against ISIS. The President emphasized that terrorism remains a genuine threat and that it is crucial that the international coalition continues with its mission.

President Nechirvan Barzani also outlined Kurdistan’s recent history, from the 1991 popular uprising until the liberation of Iraq and the period after 2003, including the role of the Kurdistan Region in reinstituting the new Iraq. The President also expressed Kurdistan Region’s willingness to further strengthen relations with the United States in various fields.