KRG PM Nechirvan Barzani welcomes Marshall Billingslea, the US Assistant Secretary for Terrorist Financing, to Erbil on February 4, 2019. Photo: KRG
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — The head of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) explained how critical Erbil can be in the fight against extremism in the financial sector in a meeting with a top US Department of Treasury official.
KRG Premier Nechirvan Barzani hosted US Assistant Secretary for Terrorist Financing Marshall Billingslea in Erbil on Monday.
“They discussed regional situations, attempts to have coordination between the KRG, Iraqi government and coalition countries especially the US in order to eradicate violence and eliminate financial resources of extremist groups,” read a statement from Barzani’s office.
The meeting also focused on the Kurdistan Region’s desire to grow and diversify away from its petroleum dependency.
“His Excellency Nechirvan Barzani thanked the past and current aid of the US to the Kurdistan Region and stressed that Kurdistan Region’s market will have a special significance for the development of Iraq’s economy,” read the KRG statement.
US trade delegations make regular trips to the Kurdistan Region.
“[Barzani] also said that it is KRG’s policy to support the private sector and draw foreign investors and they need the help of their friends in this regard,” the statement added.
Reducing corruption and barriers to entry for American companies has been a goal of Washington.
Billingslea “expressed his country’s readiness to assist Iraq and the Kurdistan Region in the area of strengthening their economic infrastructure and reforming governmental institutions,” added the KRG statement.
Trump is set to deliver a State of the Union Address on Tuesday that could affect aid coming to Iraq, as Trump increasingly pursues policies that rely less on intelligence and diplomatic assets and the US military on the ground.
The Kurdistan Region historically has welcomed a Western and American presence, believing it to be a bulwark against any possible action by Baghdad, Ankara, or Tehran.