KRG President Due in Tehran This Month

Masoud BarzaniMasoud Barzani

The much anticipated visit by Iraq's Kurdistan Regional Government President Masoud Barzani to the Iranian capital will take place later this month, his first trip in nine years to the neighboring country, KRG officials told Kurdish media on Tuesday.

Barzani is to meet senior Iranian officials after bilateral relations hit a low in May, following clashes between Iranian security forces and militant groups along the joint border.

Iran officially invited Barzani to visit Tehran earlier this year.

"The visit is important and the president was invited some time ago. He was planning to make the trip at an appropriate time and I think this month is appropriate for the visit," said Abdulla Akrei, who is a KRG coordinator to Iran.

Akrei said a range of issues will be on the table when Barzani meets Iranian officials, including the Kurdish independence referendum and the ongoing political impasse in Baghdad with several ministers removed from office by the parliament.

"The president will bring up the Kurdish independence [from Iraq], as he has done elsewhere, and I think Iran will not oppose the Kurdish people and won't be a hindrance," Akrei said.

Iran is a major regional player with considerable influence in Iraq. Tehran has also been actively supporting popular forces in the country against militants of the self-styled Islamic State terrorist group.

Tehran has in the past offered to export oil to KRG through the Iranian pipeline to the Persian Gulf where it could be delivered to international buyers. Negotiations on constructing a second Kurdish pipeline, which would connect the existing Kurdish pipeline to the Iranian network, are ongoing.

Some media outlets had previously reported that Masoud Barzani and KRG Prime Minister Nechervan Idris Barzani were expected to travel to Tehran on October 3, but the visit did not take place.


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