UK envoy hails Kurd region’s role in Iraq gov’t talks

By Arif Yusuf

ERBIL, Iraq (AA) – U.K. Ambassador to Iraq Jonathan Wilks has hailed the role being played by northern Iraq’s Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) in the formation of Iraq’s incoming government and in resolving disputes between Baghdad and Erbil.

According to a Thursday statement released by the KRG, Wilks made the remarks at a Wednesday meeting with KRG Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani in Erbil, the KRG’s administrative capital.

During the meeting, the two men reportedly discussed ongoing negotiations in Baghdad over the formation of Iraq’s next federal government — a process that has been dogged by dispute between the country’s main political players.

Members of Wilks’s delegation reportedly stressed the importance of the KRG’s role in helping draw up Iraq’s next government and the need for Iraqi Kurds to be “equal partners in the decision-making process”, according to the KRG statement.

Delegation members also underlined the need to resolve outstanding disputes between Baghdad and Erbil through dialogue, praising initiatives proposed by Barzani in this regard.

They also voiced satisfaction regarding the KRG’s plan to hold regional parliamentary elections on Sept. 30, expressing hope that the polls enjoy a successful outcome.

Barzani, for his part, said at the meeting that talks between the KRG and Iraqi political groups were “still underway” with a view to reaching agreement on the outlines of the next government.

He also stressed the importance of maintaining unity between Iraq’s Kurdish parties and coalitions.

The campaigning period for the Kurdish region’s Sept. 30 parliamentary election officially kicked off Tuesday.

The region’s first parliamentary poll was held in 1992, followed by three subsequent elections in 2005, 2009 and 2013.

The upcoming poll was initially slated for last year, but was postponed due to deep-seated political differences and a bloody conflict pitting the Iraqi army against the Daesh terrorist group.

Meanwhile, formation of Iraq’s incoming government has been stalled since May, when the country held a hard-fought parliamentary poll, results of which were later subject to a recount.