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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 19 August 2019

Mike Pompeo congratulates new Kurdistan PM Masrour Barzani for forming government

The pair discussed the growing threat of ISIS between Erbil and Baghdad
Masrour Barzani was appointed as prime minister of Iraq's Kurdish region nearly a month ago by his cousin Nechirvan Barzani, who had served as prime minister for seven years before he was elected president in June. AFP

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke to Prime Minister Masrour Barzani of the Kurdistan Regional Government on Tuesday evening, congratulating him on forming a new government this month.

Mr Barzani became leader of the Iraqi Kurdistan region on July 10.

“The secretary underscored the continued commitment of the United States to the government and people of Iraq,” said Morgan Ortagus, spokeswoman for the State Department.

Ms Ortagus said Mr Pompeo stressed the continued appreciation of progress in resolving issues between Baghdad and Erbil according to the Iraqi constitution’s framework for dialogue.

Relations between the Iraqi capital and the Kurdistan region hit a low point after Mr Barzani's father Masoud, the region's former president, announced that a referendum had voted for independence from Iraq.

Baghdad rejected the result and moved into the town of Kirkuk, expelling Kurdish forces there and ending the secession move.

Conflict between the two led to a lack of security that allowed ISIS to return, particularly to areas between Erbil and Baghdad.

The US has led the global coalition against ISIS and provided support in weapons and training to Iraqi and Kurdish peshmerga forces through Baghdad.

On Tuesday, Mr Barzani tweeted: “Today, I had a productive call with @secpompeo. I briefed the Secretary of State on my visit to Baghdad and plans to work with Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi.

"Secretary of State and I agreed to work closely on security and reform.”

Mr Barzani and Mr Abdul Mahdi discussed “security, territory, budget, and oil and gas”.

"There had been a clear willingness in Baghdad to address these issues in a positive way based on both parties’ rights and duties as set in the constitution,” the Kurdish Regional Government said.

“The Secretary of State welcomed this initiative and said he would remain engaged on it with Erbil and Baghdad."

This month, the Kurdish parliament approved Mr Barzani’s new Cabinet and the US State Department welcomed the new government. It held its first session on July 15.

“We congratulate the prime minister and the Kurdistan Regional Government on their successful government formation,” Ms Ortagus said at the time.

“We of course enjoy a close partnership with the prime minister and with the Kurdistan Regional Government.”

She said the US supported “work on important issues, including regional security, economic reform, and repairing relations between the KRG and the Government of Iraq".

Updated: July 24, 2019 11:30 AM