ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — Top officials from the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) met in Erbil on Monday and agreed to form a joint committee to improve relations.
"At the meeting it was decided to form a committee to lay the groundwork for an atmosphere of mutual understanding between the KDP and PUK paving the way for an agreement to form the government to serve the people of Kurdistan together with other political parties,” Mahmoud Mohammed, the KDP spokesperson, told reporters.
He added the committee will consist of three politburos from each side.
"In this meeting, no project was put forth or discussed about," he said, reiterating that the task of the committee will be to "bridge the differences between the KDP and PUK."
"We voiced the significance of keeping harmony between the KDP and PUK," he added.
He admitted there are a string of outstanding issues between the KDP and PUK regarding Baghdad, the mechanism of government formation, Kirkuk and issues between Erbil and Baghdad.
"Together with the PUK, we want to become a strong party to resolve all the issues," he added
Saadi Pira, the PUK spokesperson, echoed Mohammed's comments.
Pira said the KDP and PUK "must work to mitigate concerns of the people of Kurdistan."
Pira put a partial blame on media outlets accusing them of creating further rift or worsening relations between supporters of the KDP and PUK.
He said "there are some problems like external matters, Baghdad and Kirkuk, and without a strong government in place these issues will not be settled."
Kirkuk has become the center of KDP-PUK tensions as both sides repeatedly reaffirmed that the city's issue would have to be solved and the "militarization of the city be ended."
"No other Iraqi city has the huge number of Hashd al-Shaabi and the Iraqi army deployed as compared to Kirkuk."
Pira urged that a Kurdish governor will have to be chosen to Kirkuk to "stop the current deputy governor from further anti-Kurdish acts."
The PUK's delegation was led by KDP deputy and Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani. He has been tipped by his party to be president of the Kurdistan Region, if the post is reactivated by parliament.
The PUK's delegation was headed by acting leader Kosrat Rasul Ali.
Kurdistan Region Security Council (KRSC) head Masrour Barzani is also attending. The KDP favors him to be the next prime minister.
KRG Deputy PM Qubad Talabani, his elder brother Bafel Talabani and Zanyari head Lahur Talabany — all from the PUK — were also in the Kurdistan Region’s capital for the talks.
The KDP won 45 seats in the parliamentary election on September 30 — 11 shy of an absolute majority. The PUK won 21 — three more than in 2013.
Update: 3:35 p.m.