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Iraqi president meets Kurdish leadership to discuss pressing issues

 Iraqi President Barham Salih traveled to Erbil on Monday to meet with the leadership of the Kurdistan Region. They discussed the most pressing issues that the Region and Iraq are currently facing, including security, political, economic, and health issues.

The President of the Kurdistan Region, Nechirvan Barzani, along with Prime Minister Masrour Barzani, and Speaker of Parliament Rewaz Faiaq, met with Salih at the office of the Kurdistan Region’s Presidency in Erbil, a statement from that office explained.

The Kurdish leadership “reiterated” its support for Iraq’s federal government and its constitutional institutions in protecting the security and stability of the country, “particularly providing secure and stable conditions for diplomatic missions and embassies working in Iraq.”

That sentence referred to the US demand—made in telephone calls by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to Salih and then to Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi—that the Baghdad government had to stop militia attacks on US and Coalition targets, otherwise the US would close its embassy in Baghdad; move its diplomatic activities to Erbil; and launch a major attack on the militias that have been carrying out those assaults.

The participants also welcomed the latest agreement between the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and Iraq’s Federal Government to normalize the situation in Sinjar (Shingal), including “the return of internally displaced Yezidis,” according to the press release.

They also emphatically “rejected any attempt to change the demography of the disputed territories.” The regime of the ousted dictator, Saddam Hussein, had a deliberate “Arabization” policy, in which Kurds were driven out of the area, and Arabs brought into it.

They also asked the federal government to provide security and stability in the disputed territories, according to the statement from the office of the Kurdish presidency.

The participants also condemned the assassination last week of the Kurdistan Region’s top border official in Duhok province, Ghazi Salih Ali Khani. KRG security forces have charged that the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) was behind Khani’s assassination.