British Minister of State and Foreign Office Burt Alistair speaks to Rudaw.
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — The United Kingdom is prepared to continue to assist Erbil and Baghdad with dialogue ahead of the Kurdistan Region's independence referendum, revealed British Minister of State and Foreign Office Burt Alistair while in Erbil.
"The United Kingdom is very keen to help and assist in this process of continuing dialogue between Erbil and Baghdad and we believe that this dialogue is continuing even up until the 25th of September," Alistair told reporters while standing beside the Kurdistan Regional Government's Foreign Relations Minister Falah Mustafa on Monday.
Alistair, who described himself as a friend of the Region, believes the United Kingdom can still foster continued dialogue between the regional and central governments.
“The depth of the relationship between ourselves and the Kurdish people created over many years gives us the opportunity to work with our friends here and try to achieve the best outcome for them, and we are very determined to seek to do that," Alistair said.
The Minister of State reiterated that his nation and others are aware of Kurdish aspirations for statehood, but they disagree with the timing of the September 25 vote.
"The position of the United Kingdom in company with number of another states is that we fully understand the aspirations of the Kurdish people and that is a matter for them. We are not persuaded at the moment that this should be done as a unilateral gesture without further consultation with Baghdad," he said.
Alistair explained this is fourth or fifth visit to the Kurdistan Region in various governmental roles and this gives him hope.
“The depth of the relationship between ourselves and the Kurdish people created over many years gives us the opportunity to work with our friends here and try to achieve the best outcome for them, and we are very determined to seek to do that," he added.
Other high-level officials from the Kurdistan Region will meet with Alistair.
"We're continuing to talk and we're continuing to help and we will go on doing that both here and in Baghdad for the next few weeks," he concluded.
Alistair is also Minister of of International Development and announced he would be addressing humanitarian issues and growing bilateral relations. He explained the United Kingdom has already given more then £200 million to assist displaced Iraqis, £4 million for clearing mines and explosives, and is ready to spend £1.5 million for infrastructure.