KRG calls on U.N. to join Erbil-Baghdad talks as ‘third party’

KRG Prime Minister Masrour Barzani along with Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani (C) chairs a meeting of Council of Ministers in Erbil, December 23, 2020. (KRG)

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) called on the United Nations to join talks between the Kurdistan Region and the federal government in Baghdad as a mediator.

KRG Council of Ministers held a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Masrour Barzani on Wednesday to discuss the latest talks between Kurdish and Iraqi officials in Baghdad over the Region’s share of the federal budget for 2021 and financial entitlements.

Barzani said the KRG had “left no justification” for the federal government and that it had implemented its obligations in efforts to resolve the issues and to reach a “fair agreement” that secures rights and financial entitlements of the Kurdistan Region.

“We will never abandon our constitutional rights,” Barzani said during the meeting. “The issue of payments and financial entitlements have become a political card used against the Kurdistan Region.”

Barzani called on the “United Nations to participate in the talks between the Kurdistan Region and the federal government as a third party so that rights and duties of each side are clear.”

Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani who led a high-level delegation to Baghdad said on Tuesday that Erbil and Baghdad had reached an agreement over the federal budget bill for 2021.

The draft budget law commits the Kurdistan Region to export 250,000 barrels of oil per day through Baghdad in exchange for the Region’s share of the federal budget, which is set at 12.67%.

The delegation which stayed in Baghdad for two weeks met with Iraqi officials and political leaders in an effort to reach a final deal over the rights and financial entitlements of the Kurdistan Region.

Talabani further said talks between Erbil and Baghdad would continue to secure the Region’s share of the budget in the fiscal deficit financing law, also known as the loan law.

The law, adopted by the Iraqi parliament last month without Kurds’ consent, commits the Kurdistan Region to hand over non-oil revenues and an amount of oil that SOMO indicates to the federal government in exchange for an amount of money as payment for the Region’s public servants.

On Monday, Kurdistan Region President Nechirvan Barzani hoped during a meeting with U.N. envoy to Iraq Jeanine Hennis- Plasschaert that the United nations would continue to help Erbil and Baghdad resolve their suspending issues.

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