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SULAIMANI — Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Prime Minister Masrour Barzani and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke by phone on Friday (April 23) about recent developments in Iraq and the Kurdistan Region, including the April 14 drone attack on Erbil Airbase.
Both Barzani and Blinken “strongly condemned rocket and drone attacks against the Kurdistan Region, Iraqi bases, and global coalition forces,” the KRG said in a lengthy readout of the call.
US State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement that the pair “agreed that these attacks represent an egregious violation of Iraqi sovereignty.”
A drone laden with explosives damaged a storage hanger at the airbase during the attack, but no one was hurt. A short time later, rockets fired at a Turkish base near Bashiqa, killing one Turkish soldier and wounding a teenage girl. Militants associated with the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) are suspected in the attack.
Additionally, Barzani and Blinken discussed the KRG’s reform efforts, Erbil-Baghdad relations, and the upcoming Iraqi parliamentary elections, currently set for October 10.
Barzani updated the Secretary on the KRG’s “aggressive reforms,” noting that Erbil had increased revenues in recent months, and urged the US to invest in the Kurdistan Region’s banking sector.
In January 2020, the KRG passed a salary pension and reform bill. Although officials promised that it would be implemented last summer, a number of aspects of the legislation are not yet fully executed. Observers argued at the time that the KRG was picking the low-hanging fruit, while avoiding deeper reforms.
“The Secretary emphasized the importance of free and fair Iraqi parliamentary elections in October, and he encouraged continued close cooperation between Baghdad and the KRG on issues of mutual concern,” the State Department said.
Last month, the Council of Representatives passed the 2021 Federal Budget Law, which included an agreement between Baghdad and Erbil where the former will send monthly cash transfers to the Region in return for 250,000 barrels of crude oil per day and a percentage of customs receipts from the international border crossings.
So far, neither have implemented the deal.
Barzani urged the US to “help provide both Erbil and Baghdad the political space necessary to implement the budget and settle other disputes.”
The KRG prime minister also said that he was working with his Iraqi counterpart Mustafa al-Kadhimi to implement last October’s security agreement about Sinjar.
(NRT Digital Media)