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Barzani Seeks French Support to Solve Dispute with Baghdad on Controversial Issues

Barzani Seeks French Support to Solve Dispute with Baghdad on Controversial Issues

Friday, 12 July, 2019 - 06:30
French President Emmanuel Macron (R) thumbs up toward journalists as he leaves with the President of the Regional Government of Iraqi Kurdistan Nechirvan Barzani (L) the Elysee Palace following their meeting on July 10, 2019 in Paris. Ludovic MARIN / AFP
Paris - Michel Abou Najm
President of Kurdistan Region Netchirvan Barzani visited the French capital this week following two visits made by Iraqi President Barham Saleh last February and Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi early in May.

Barzani last visited Paris in December 2017 when the crisis between Baghdad and Erbil was at its peak following the independence referendum held in Kurdistan and clashes between Kurdish and Iraqi forces. This is his first visit to the European nation since he was elected president on June 10.

During Barzani’s 2017 visit, France had advised the Kurdish leadership not to hold the referendum and Paris mediated to improve relations between the two sides.

In a brief statement released by the French presidency following a meeting between President Emmanuel Macron and Barzani at the Elysee on Wednesday, Paris renewed its support for Iraq’s unity and sovereignty.

Macron promised the president of Kurdistan Region of enhancing French-Iraqi relations and bilateral cooperation based on the “strategic roadmap,” which was signed when Abdul Mahdi visited Paris.

Macron said he would visit the Kurdistan Region next month, without giving a specific date.

The French President had planned to visit Baghdad in the spring of 2018, however, he later postponed his trip.

Paris attaches great importance to the Kurdistan Region, playing an important role, as part of its mission in the US-led coalition against ISIS to provide military support to the Region and to Iraqi forces, through training and weapons.

Barzani said he thanked France for its support in the war against ISIS and the humanitarian aid effort.

Barzani is likely in Paris to seek additional French support for solving controversial issues with Baghdad, including oil and the fate of Kirkuk.

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