Pope Francis visits Kurdistan Region as part of historic trip to Iraq

Pope Francis is pictured at Erbil international airport in Kurdistan Region, March 7, 2021.

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — Pope Francis arrived in the Kurdistan Region on Sunday as part of his historic trip to Iraq.

Kurdistan Region President Nechirvan Barzani and Prime Minister Masrour Barzani welcomed Francis at Erbil International Airport.

Francis held a meeting with senior Kurdish officials including the president, prime minister and deputy prime minister Qubad Talabani at the airport.

“I’m honored to receive Pope Francis in Erbil. As apostolic visit begins in Kurdistan, we reiterate our lasting commitment to peace, religious freedom & fraternity,” the Region’s president said in a tweet.

“We also remember Peshmarga heroes and all those who made ultimate sacrifice to defend peace & liberty for all Iraqis,” he added.

Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) leader Masoud Barzani welcomed and met with the pope at the airport.

“I warmly welcome His Holiness, @Pontifex to Kurdistan. His holiness’s visit to Iraq and the Kurdistan Region is indeed historic, carrying the noble message of peaceful co-existence,” Barzani said in a tweet.

The pope will later visit Mosul and Qaraqosh on the third day of his trip to Iraq.

Pope Francis began his most risky foreign trip on Friday, flying into Iraq amid the tightest security ever seen for a papal visit to appeal to the country’s leaders and people to end militant violence and religious strife.

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