UK PM Speaks By Phone with KRG Premier, Reiterates Respect for Unified Iraq

UK PM Speaks By Phone with KRG Premier, Reiterates Respect for Unified Iraq

UK’s Prime Minister Theresa May spoke by phone with her Kurdish counterpart Nechirvan Barzani, reiterating continued respect for the territorial integrity and unity of Iraq.

The British premier’s office released a statement on Tuesday (December 12) saying May welcomed the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) recognition of Iraqi Federal Supreme Court’s decision that Iraq is unified and indivisible.

“She said the UK would continue to fight to protect the identity and rights of the Kurdish people under the Iraqi constitution,” the statement read.

Both leaders agreed on the importance of dialogue between the Kurdistan Region and Baghdad, the statement added. They also agreed on negotiating an agreement over Iraqi federal control and joint management of the borders as well as a resumption of international flights to the region’s airports.

May also urged the KRG for continued reform in political, economic and security sectors to strengthen the region’s institutions, her office said.

The British prime minister also said, “She would be pleased to see Prime Minister Barzani in London in due course to make further progress on these matters,” it added.

May’s phone call came after her visit to Iraq on November 29, where he met with her Iraqi counterpart Abadi in Baghdad. According to Abadi’s office, in that meeting she also encouraged the Kurdistan Region to respect a unified Iraq.

Relations between the Kurdistan Region and Iraq hit their lowest in the aftermath of the referendum held by the Kurdistan Region, which saw over 90 percent of voters say “yes” to independence.

The central government has taken security and economic measures against the KRG in the wake of the referendum. In a first reaction, Baghdad banned international flights to and from the region. In mid-October, the Iraqi forces alongside Hashid al-Shaabi retook disputed areas from the Kurdish forces.