President Nechirvan Barzani receives France’s Minister of the Armed Forces Florence Parly

Erbil, Kurdistan Region, August 27, 2020

Kurdistan Region President Nechirvan Barzani received the French Republic’s Minister of the Armed Forces Ms. Florence Parly and her accompanying delegation in Erbil on Thursday.

The latest developments in Iraq, ways to confront the resurgence of terror activities in the country, including ISIS movements, were discussed at the meeting. Both sides focused on the need for the international coalition’s continued support to confront ISIS and the ongoing coordination and cooperation between the Kurdistan Peshmerga Forces and the Iraqi army in confronting and eradicating terrorism.

President Nechirvan Barzani expressed gratitude for the effective role that France played in defeating ISIS and highlighted the role of the French forces in the Kurdistan Region, particularly in areas of training and capacity-building of the Peshmerga forces in addition to cooperation in areas of security and intelligence in the fight against terrorism. The President also expressed appreciation to France for all its political and humanitarian support to the Kurdistan Region; especially the assistance it extended to the refugees and the displaced people hosted by the Kurdistan Region.

On her part, the French Republic’s Minister of the Armed Forces Florence Parly conveyed the appreciation and gratitude of the government of France for the leading role of the Kurdistan Region and its Peshmerga Forces in defeating ISIS, hosting refugees and displaced people and preserving and protecting ethnic and religious communities in Kurdistan Region. Minister Parly reiterated her country’s continued support to the Kurdistan Region.

At the meeting, which was also attended by the Kurdistan Region Vice Presidents, France’s Ambassador to Iraq and a number of diplomats and advisors, both sides discussed Erbil-Baghdad relations, the ongoing negotiations aimed at finding solutions to the pending issues between both sides, Covid-19 pandemic and its impacts on Iraq and the Kurdistan Region and ways for France to offer assistance.

Talks also covered bilateral relations between France and the Kurdistan Region, the current situation in Iraq and the importance of power-sharing among all parties in the country’s political process. The President and the Minister of the Armed Forces also talked about the ongoing Iraq-US strategic dialogue and the participation of the Kurdistan Region in the dialogue, the Kurdistan Region’s relations with the neighboring countries, the latest developments in the wider region, the importance of cooperation and joint effort in preserving stability and peace in the Middle East and other issue of bilateral interest.

Following their meeting, President Nechirvan Barzani and Minister Florence Parly held a joint press conference:

Commenting on their meeting, President Nechirvan Barzani said: “We are pleased to welcome the French Republic’s Minister of the Armed Forces Ms. Florence Parly. Her visit comes at a crucial time; as Iraq and the Kurdistan Region still need the support of the international coalition in the fight against ISIS, as well as political and economic support. France is an important member of the international coalition in fighting and defeating terrorism. It has provided extensive support to Iraq and the Kurdistan Region. We value and appreciate this visit at this important juncture, which demonstrates France’s continued support to the Kurdistan Region.”

The President also said that: “France has stood by the Kurdistan Region during many difficult periods. We have historic bilateral relations. At the time of the Anfal genocidal campaigns of 1988, as well as during the uprising of the 1991 in the Kurdistan Region and during the liberation of Iraq and afterwards, France has always been a close friend of the Kurdistan Region. The people of the Kurdistan Region will never forget the support and assistance provided by France.”

The President added: “I would like to express my appreciation and thank President Emmanuel Macron for his stance and role during the difficulties faced by the Kurdistan Region in the fall of 2017. He took the initiative and broke the political and diplomatic embargo that were imposed on the Kurdistan Region. France helped de-escalate tensions and restarted talks with the federal government of Iraq.”

The president also said: “During the war against ISIS, in addition to military support and security cooperation, France provided humanitarian assistance to the refugees and the displaced people in the Kurdistan Region who were of different ethnic and religious backgrounds, particularly our Christians and Yezidi sisters and brothers. France also opened its doors to them and welcomed many of them.”

The President also stated: “the Kurdistan Region looks forward to strengthening ties with France in all sectors. The Kurdistan Region welcomes French investors and companies to participate in developing its infrastructure. There are plenty of opportunities to expand bilateral relations in the political, security, academic and cultural sectors.”

The President extended his warmest regards to Ms. Parly and every French soldier stationed in the Kurdistan Region and said: “We thank them for their role in defeating ISIS. We also thank the Ambassador of France to Iraq and France’s Consul General in Erbil for their role in strengthening our bilateral ties. We also thank France for its support in confronting and containing the Covid-19 pandemic in the Kurdistan Region.”Once again, I welcome Ms. Parly. Thank you.

On her part, the French Republic’s Minister of the Armed Forces Ms. Florence Parly thanked His Excellency the President of the Kurdistan Region Nechirvan Barzani for the warm welcome and reception.

In her remarks she said: “Following my visit to Baghdad, I am visiting the Kurdistan Region to express the support of France to Iraq and the Kurdistan Region, which are facing great challenges in health and other fields”.

Ms. Parly added: “Mr. President, we are standing by you at this difficult time. We are with you in the fight against our common enemy, ISIS. In the war against ISIS, the role of the Peshmerga is important and France is proud to fight this war together with the Peshmerga, a war that has been going on for six years. It’s a difficult and complicated war, but it is an important one that must go on. We are committed to continue the war against ISIS together with you and within the international coalition. We have discussed this issue with Iraqi officials, General White and the Iraqi Defense Minister.”

Ms. Parly concluded: “Finally, I want to emphasize that we view the stability in the Middle East with concern. We reiterated to President Nechirvan Barzani that we will continue our support and will expand it. It is also imperative that Iraq’s sovereignty be preserved and external interferences and tensions come to end. There must be talks and dialogues among the regional countries in this regard and I think that President Nechirvan Barzani is working towards this objective. We can defeat ISIS together. Thank you.

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