SULAIMANI (ESTA) — Kurdish Prime Minister Masrour Barzani met with senior U.S. officials on the sidelines of Manama Dialogue in Bahrain on Saturday.
Barzani flew to Bahrain on Friday to participate in the 2021 Manama Dialogue, where ministers and leaders gather to discuss security along with other regional and global problems.
On Saturday, the Kurdish premier met with U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on the margins of the Manama Dialogue, according to a Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) statement.
He stressed the importance of solving issues between Kurdistan and the federal government so as to jointly maintain security in the disputed areas, claimed by both Erbil and Baghdad, the statement read.
Austin expressed “respect for President Masoud Barzani’s role in Kurdistan Region and Iraq,” the KRG said.
“The Kurdistan Region is an important ally,” the KRG cited Austin as saying.
The U.S. defense secretary also reiterated the United States’ support for the Kurdistan Region and Peshmerga forces in the fight against Islamic State (ISIS).
In a separate statement, the U.S. defense department said Austin had offered “his deep appreciation for the continued partnership between the United States and the Kurdistan Regional Government.”
He also thanked Barzani for the Peshmerga’s “critical contribution” to the fight against ISIS, the statement read.
Austin also underscored that the U.S. forces “remain in Iraq at the invitation of the Iraqi government, to support the campaign to defeat ISIS”.
Separately, Barzani met with White House Coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa Affairs Brett McGurk on Saturday.
“They emphasized the value of continued cooperation in order to provide stability in Iraq and the region,” the KRG said in a separate statement.
Barzani said in a tweet that he had exchanged views with McGurk on Iraq’s recent elections, the need to form “an inclusive government that respects the Iraqi Constitution”.
The KRG prime minister also held meetings with UK national security advisor Stephen Lovegrove, Bahrain Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa, Jordan’s Deputy Prime Minister Aiman Safadi and Secretary General of the Arab League Ahmed Aboul Ghait, and German Foreign Ministry State Secretary Miguel Berger.