Iraqi Vice President Nouri al-Maliki [R] receives a Kurdish delegation of oppositition parties headed by Shorish Haji [L] from Gorran in Baghdad on January 5, 2018. Photo: Maliki media office
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – A ban on international flights to and from the Kurdistan Region will be lifted "in the near future," Iraqi Vice President Nouri al-Maliki reportedly told a joint delegation of Kurdish opposition parties visiting Baghdad.
Ahmad Haji Rashid, a Komal member of the delegation, told Rudaw that their meeting with VP Maliki was "good.”
"Maliki said...the airports will be reopened in the near future," Rashid quoted Maliki as saying.
Baghdad imposed the flight ban in late-September on the Kurdistan Region’s two international airports, just four days after nearly 93 percent of the people voted via referendum to leave Iraq. Kurdish officials said in late December that the ban was extended until end of February. Iraq said that the ban never had an expiry date.
Maliki told reporters following the meeting that the issues between Erbil and Baghdad must be resolved through dialogue.
He said they care about "stability" of the Kurdistan Region, and that the Kurdish people should not pay the price for "the mistakes of some wrong policies," practiced by Kurdish leaders, a reference to the referendum held despite opposition from Iraq and other countries.
Maliki also told the delegation that the outstanding issues between the federal and regional governments must end on the basis of the Iraqi constitution, that the salaries of KRG's state employees must be paid, and to avoid tensions to prevent any "threat" against any of the components of Iraq, his office stated.
Maliki, who is the head of PM Abadi's Dawa Party and a former PM, has taken a softer line towards Kurdish issues ahead of Iraqi elections scheduled for May 12.
The KRG has said that it respects the rulings of the Iraqi Federal Court that announced the outcome of the Kurdish vote null and void, and that the constitution does not allow secession.
Many in the international community, including French President Emmanuel Macron, have offered to help broker talks
Saad al-Hadithi, the spokesperson for the Iraqi government, stated earlier this week that the KRG has to go a step further by nullifying the results
— something he said is a precondition for talks between Erbil and Baghdad.
Rudaw in late-December 2017 that the KRG did not have to make any further announcement since it respected the court rulings while calling for a new chapter be opened in the bilateral relations.
The question of state salaries for the KRG employees and the Kurdistan Region’s share of the Iraqi budget in 2018 remain two contentious issues between Erbil and Baghdad. Abadi has said on multiple occasions that Baghdad will pay the salaries after an audit is complete. But on Tuesday, he said he will not allow the KRG to receive its 17 percent share of the budget
, even if the Iraqi parliament wants to.
He called the 17 percent a "political agreement" used by Iraqi politicians to receive favours from the Kurdish parties, adding that this era is over under his watch.
A session of Iraqi parliament failed to convene on Wednesday to debate the budget draft for 2018 because of a boycott by Kurdish and Sunni MPs.
Iraqi Parliament Speaker Salim al-Jabouri, an influential Sunni Arab politician who is seen to be close to Maliki, said that the legislature will enter talks with the government of Iraq to consider the KRG’s concerns