Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif speaks to Rudaw in Erbil on January 15, 2019. Photo: Rudaw
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said that US President Donald Trump has no place in Iran’s relationship with the Kurdistan Region.
The ties between Iran and Kurdistan are rooted in history and will outlast Trump’s administration, he said when asked about Trump’s recent comment he was unhappy about Kurds selling oil to Iran.
“It has nothing to do with Mr. Trump. Together with the Kurds, we have relations dating back centuries. These governments come and go,” said Zarif.
Speaking to reporters after a cabinet meeting at the start of the year, Trump said he didn't like it that Kurds are “selling the small oil that they have to Iran, and we asked them not to sell it to Iran... We're not thrilled about that. OK? I'm not happy about it at all.”
His comment was confusing as it was made during a discussion about Kurds in Syria, who have no border with Iran and denied they are selling oil to Tehran. Analysts believe Trump may have confused Kurds in Iraq with those in Syria.
The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has said they will follow Baghdad’s lead when it comes to complying with US sanctions on Iran.
Washington gave Baghdad a temporary waiver from sanctions, allowing Iraq to continue importing Iranian natural gas and electricity through March.
Governments in both Baghdad and Erbil have stressed the importance of their economic ties with Iran.
Zarif arrived in Baghdad on Sunday where he met with Iraqi leaders before coming to Erbil on Tuesday. He held a meeting on trade
with KRG Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani and business leaders. He then traveled to Sulaimani for a trade conference.
Iran and Iraq share a nearly 1,500 kilometre long border and want to increase trade.
With reporting from Sangar Abdulrahman.