Posted on 17 February 2013. Tags: 'Your Country' - United Kingdom, KRG, Kurdistan
Pages: 1 2 3
Alistair Burt, the UK’s Foreign Office Minister responsible for the Middle East, on Thursday met President Masoud Barzani in Erbil. During his visit, an agreement was made to extend the British National School of Government’s training programme in Kurdistan, and the Kurdistan Regional Government allocated land for the British Consulate’s permanent residences.
Minister Burt on Wednesday evening arrived from Baghdad for a two-day visit to the Kurdistan Region. In his meeting with President Barzani, both sides reiterated their commitment to a long-term relationship. He thanked President Barzani for the allocation of land for the Consulate General.
They discussed relations between the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the UK, political developments in Iraq, events in Syria and the greater region. They also touched on the British companies operating in Kurdistan.
At a ceremony, Minister Falah Mustafa, the KRG’s Head of Foreign Relations, presented a letter to Minister Burt confirming that land has been formally allocated for the permanent premises of the British Consulate General. Minister Burt said, “This ceremony celebrates, in a very material way, the long-term relationship that the KRG has with the United Kingdom and what we plan to have.”
Minister Mustafa commented, “We are pleased to hear the reiteration from the United Kingdom for a long-term relationship. The size and scope of their Consulate General in Erbil has grown considerably in recent years, which symbolises the opportunities that our region provides.”
Following the ceremony Minister Burt held a press conference at the Saad Abdulla Convention Centre. He said, “I had the opportunity to witness the signing of an extension of the relationship between the KRG and the British National School of Government. This is designed to further improve the capacity and training of government here.”
He added, “This demonstrates the commitment of the Kurdistan Regional Government to delivering services to the people they represent, and the United Kingdom welcomes this recognition.”
When asked about his meeting with Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki in Baghdad, he said, “We are well aware of the tensions between Baghdad and Kurdistan. Our advice is, as always, to encourage in a democratic process to continue to talk and find a way through difficulties in a constitutional manner which builds and supports the democratic institutions…The detailed resolution of any political problem such as that must lie with the leaders in Iraq.”
During his visit Minister Burt also met the Deputy Prime Minister Imad Ahmad with several KRG ministers. The Deputy Prime Minister said, “We value the relationship with the United Kingdom due to the role you have played in liberating Iraq. But you also have an important role to play in the rebuilding process of Iraq, especially in Kurdistan as we offer more safety and stability compared with the rest of Iraq.”
He added, “We need the experience and capabilities of British companies in the economic, investment and trade sectors.”
They also discussed the progress in achieving direct flights to Erbil, and touched on establishing the presence of a British university in the region. Minister Burt said that he was pleased to see the region continue to develop.
On his arrival in Erbil, the UK Foreign Office Minister was welcomed at Erbil International Airport by the Interior Minister Karim Sinjari and Minister Mustafa. Mrs Talar Faiq Salih, the airport’s Director, gave Minister Burt a tour of the airport. On Mr Burt’s last visit to Kurdistan just under three years ago, the new airport had not yet become operational. He was provided with information about traffic, passenger figures, airlines and cargo operations.
Minister Burt was delighted to see the new airport in operation, particularly because it was designed by the British engineering firm Scott Wilson.
Following the tour, Minister Mustafa and Dr Fuad Hussein, President Barzani’s Chief of Staff, hosted Minister Burt for dinner. They discussed Iraq’s main political issues, relations between Erbil and Baghdad, the mass demonstrations in other parts of Iraq, and the events in Syria.
Minister Mustafa hosted a working lunch for Minister Burt with several KRG ministers and officials at the Saad Abdulla Convention Centre: The Minister for Martyrs and Anfal Affairs, Aram Mohamed; the Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Dr Serwan Baban; the Minister for Trade and Industry Sinan Celebi; and the Governor of Erbil Nawzad Hadi, who accompanied the UK minister on a tour of Erbil’s ancient citadel.
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