PUK co-leaders call for continuity of efforts to tackle Baghdad-Erbil budget issue

PUK Co-presidents Bafel Talabani and Lahur Sheikh Jangi (L) meets a delegation from National Iraqi Alliance in Sulaimani, February 20, 2021.

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) co-leaders on Saturday called for the continuity of efforts to tackle the issue of federal budget between Baghdad and Erbil.

Co-leaders Bafel Talabani and Lahur Sheikh Jangi met with a delegation from National Iraqi Alliance led by Ammar al-Hakim, leader of National Hikmah Movement, in Sulaimani city.

The delegation arrived in Sulaimani on Saturday morning to participate in a ceremony to commemorate Martyrs’ Day of Iraq and the Kurdistan Region.

The PUK’s co-leaders and the Iraqi politicians discussed the latest political developments in Iraq and the Kurdistan Region during the meeting, according to a statement by Talabani’s office.

“In the meeting, the PUK co-leaders stressed on the importance of the participation of all parties including Kurds, Shias and Sunnis, who play an active role in the political process,” the statement read.

The co-leaders called for the “continuity of efforts in order to solve the budget issue and to secure salaries of the Region’s salaries, which are the PUK’s priorities,” the statement said.

Despite a series of meetings between Iraqi and Kurdish officials, Baghdad and Erbil have yet to reach a final agreement on their suspending issues, including oil and border crossings.

The draft budget law commits the Kurdistan Region to hand over 250,000 barrels of oil per day and non-oil revenue to Baghdad in exchange for the Region’s share of the budget.

On Tuesday, U.N. envoy to Iraq Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert said agreements on the federal budget for 2021 “requires reconciliation and compromise” between Baghdad and Erbil.

“Those who have followed the recent budgetary negotiations closely, will have realized that these negotiations were not just centered on technical questions – such as barrels per day. They were also inherently political – about deeper misgivings and mistrust,” she said.

“So, let me re-emphasize: a positive, stable relationship between federal Iraq and the Kurdistan Region is absolutely essential to the stability of the whole country,” she added.

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