Kurdistan Region President Massoud Barzani (R) with his French counterpart Francois Hollande. File photo
PARIS, France - Kurdish President Masoud Barzani is expected to arrive in the French capital today on a two-day visit that includes meetings with the French president and defense officials.
Barzani's Chief of Staff Fuad Hussein told Rudaw the meeting will primarily focus on ongoing cooperation between Kurdish Peshmerga troops and the French army in their war against militants of the Islamic State (ISIS), including the looming Mosul operation.
"France has always been a great supporter of the Peshmerga and the Kurdish people, especially in the ISIS war and now the two presidents will discuss future cooperation, in particular the military assistance that the French government has provided for the Peshmerga," Hussein said.
President Francois Hollande was among the first heads of state to visit Erbil in 2014 to show solidarity with the Kurdistan Region in their fight against ISIS.
The French army delivered two shipments of military aid to the ministry of Peshmerga in June as part of an earlier agreement to assist the Kurdish and Iraqi forces battling militants in the country.
The two air deliveries, which included military equipment as well as uniforms and ammunition, were made directly to the Kurdish authorities.
This is Barzani's third meeting with the French president in Paris since Hollande took office in 2012. Barzani is scheduled to also meet with Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo and Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian.
"We should remember that President Hollande's visit to Erbil after the ISIS offensive demonstrated the commitment of France to the Kurdistan Region and its direct recognition," said Ali Dolamari, the Kurdish representative to Paris. "France is the first European country that has supported the Kurdistan region militarily as well as in terms of diplomacy and culture," he added.
Dolamari also said that Barzani will be formally welcomed in the Paris municipality building, in a sign of respect for the Kurdish president.