Iranian Intelligence Minister Mahmoud Alawi (left) talks with Kurdish Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani. Photo: KRG.
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Iran has extended an official invitation to Kurdistan Region President Masoud Barzani, whose last visit was in 2011, following talks in Baghdad and Erbil by Iran’s intelligence minister.
The invitation, reported in a statement by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), also comes after an Iranian Consulate official in Erbil last week urged the Kurds to resolve all disagreements with Baghdad.
Iranian Intelligence Minister Mahmoud Alawi and his delegation met with top officials in Baghdad and Erbil on Saturday. In Erbil he met with Kurdish Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani, according to a KRG statement.
That statement also said Alawi emphasized on the strengthening of bilateral relations between Iran and the Kurdistan Region.
“Iran has always considered the Kurdistan Region as a friendly neighbor and a factor of stability in the region,” the statement quoted him as saying. He said Tehran “attaches great importance to its relations with the Kurdistan Region, stressing that these relations have deep historical roots.”
In Baghdad, Alawi met with the Iraqi parliament speaker, Salim Jabouri, as well as with former prime minister Nouri Maliki.
Iran’s official IRNA news agency said the discussions focused on political and security issues, as well as the war on terrorism.
Last week, an Iranian Consulate official in the Kurdistan Region called on the Kurds to return for talks to Baghdad and settle all disagreements with Prime Minister Haidar Abadi.
“Iran wants Kurds to settle with Abadi and reach an agreement on all issues with Baghdad,” Ali Panahi, Iran’s deputy consul, told Rudaw.
He said Sunday that Barzani had been invited especially for his influence against Daesh, or ISIS, with the Kurdish Peshmerga have been fighting since August 2014
“Barzani has great influence in many areas, especially in the war against Daesh and terrorism,” he told
Rudaw, adding that a date for the visit has not been fixed.
The autonomous KRG in northern Iraq is locked in serious rows with the Shiite-led central government in Baghdad over Kurdish oil exports, the state budget, territorial issues and Kurds one day declaring independence.
Kurdish MPs fled Baghdad and arrived in the Kurdistan Region following large anti-government demonstrations in the Iraqi capital that ended with the April 30 storming of the parliament building by thousands of angry protesters.
Shiite Iran exercises immense influence in Iraq, especially on the government in Baghdad.