U.S. will continue to support Iraqi and Kurdish forces, says ambassador – statement

Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Prime Minister Masrour Barzani (R) meets U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Matthew Tueller in Erbil, April 12, 2021. (KRG photo)

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — The United States will continue to support the Iraqi military and Peshmerga forces, said the U.S. ambassador to Iraq on Monday.

Ambassador Matthew Tueller met with Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Prime Minister Masrour Barzani in Erbil on Monday.

Tueller said the United States would continue to support the Iraqi and Kurdish forces to confront threats posed by Islamic State (ISIS) within the U.S.-led Coalition forces, a KRG statement said.

The United States has supplied military and financial aid to the Iraqi military and Peshmerga forces since 2014, following the fight against Islamic State (ISIS) militants which overran large swathes of Iraqi territory.

The U.S. ambassador also praised reforms undertaken by the KRG, particularly those in the ministry of Peshmerga, the statement read.

In February 2018, the KRG Peshmerga ministry announced a 35-point plan to make the Peshmerga a more efficient, modern, and non-partisan fighting force, which was developed in consultation with advisors from the U.S., UK and Germany.

The Peshmerga ministry’s reforms include the unification of its units that are not under the command of the official military institution as well as training for the forces.

The KRG premier, for his part, reaffirmed Erbil’s commitment to the federal budget law for 2021, calling on Baghdad to implement the law.

The Iraqi Council of Representatives approved the federal budget of 130 trillion Iraqi dinars ($89.65 billion) as the country wrestles with an economic and financial crisis due to low crude prices.

The budget deficit is estimated at 28.7 trillion Iraqi dinars ($19.79 billion).

After months of wrangling, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the central government reached an agreement on thorny issues, including oil and non-oil revenues.

Under the 2021 budget law, the Kurdistan Region will be committed to produce 460,000 barrels of oil per day (bpd).

After deducting expenses for production operations in the Region, transport of oil and the domestic consumption of crude oil, the KRG must hand over to Baghdad revenues generated from regional oil exports of 250,000 bpd, according to Iraq’s SOMO pricing, as well as 50 percent of non-oil revenue.

The Kurdistan Region, in return, will receive its share of the budget, which is set at 13.9%.

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