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President Barzani Concludes Visit to World Economic Forum in Davos

SUN, 26 JAN 2014 14:49 | KRP.org

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Davos, Switzerland (KRP.org) – The president of the Kurdistan Region, Masoud Barzani, concluded his visit to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland where he participated in a public panel and held a number of bilateral meetings with political and economic world leaders. In addition, he participated in two high-level private discussion sessions; one on the events unfolding in the Middle East and North Africa, and one on the conflict in Syria.

The discussions with the political leaders focused on enhancing bilateral relations and included consultations on the political and security challenges facing Iraq, Syria and the wider region.

In his meetings, President Barzani drew attention to the plight of the more than 250,000 Syrian refugees who have sought refuge in Kurdistan, and underlined the importance of more international assistance for these refugees. On the conflict in Syria, he also reiterated that there is no military solution to the conflict in Syria, and that only a political settlement can lead to a resolution.

President Barzani held meetings with the Prime Ministers of Netherlands and Georgia. The Dutch Prime Minister, Mark Rutte expressed his satisfaction with the progress in mutual relations with the KRG, and hoped that these ties will continue to expand. President Barzani concurred with the Prime Minister about the progress in relations and also expressed KRG readiness to further enhance bilateral ties.

Prime Minister Rutte praised the KRG for hosting such a large number of refugees and said they realize this puts a great burden on the KRG resources. In turn, President Barzani said, ‘We now have about 250,000 Syrian refugees, mostly Kurds, in Kurdistan. For us, it’s both a humanitarian and national obligation to look after them. I hope the international community will be more forthcoming in providing aid to the Syrian refugees in Kurdistan.’

They also discussed the plight of the Syrian refugees in Kurdistan, relations between Erbil and Baghdad, the upcoming Iraqi parliamentary elections in April, the current security situation in Anbar province and the threat of terrorism.

With the Georgian Prime Minister, Irakli Garibashvili, President Barzani talked about economic cooperation and enhancing bilateral ties. Prime Minister Garibashvili emphasized Georgia’s willingness to strengthen relations in the economic field and stated that his country is ready to send a delegation to Kurdistan in order to consolidate these relations.

On the margins of the World Economic Forum, the President also met with the Foreign Ministers of France, Turkey and Sweden.

In the meeting between the President and the French Foreign Minister Laurant Fabius, both emphasized continued close cooperation and hope that these bilateral ties will become increasingly enhanced. Foreign Minister Fabius said he is very pleased with his country’s bilateral relations with the Kurdistan Region. The president said the KRG is equally pleased with this relationship and is keen to further develop ties with France.

The meeting between the President and Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu focused on bilateral ties and the dialogue currently underway between Erbil and Baghdad to reach a settlement on the issues of oil and gas exports through Turkey. They both expressed their hope and optimism that Erbil and Baghdad can soon reach a resolution, one that is also in the interest of Iraq as whole.

During the meeting with Sweden’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Carl Bildt, President Barzani briefed him on the latest political and security developments in Iraq as well as the ongoing Syrian crisis. They also discussed bilateral relations to which Minister Bildt expressed his pleasure at the level of relationship between Sweden and the Kurdistan Region.

Also on the sideline of the Forum, President Barzani met the US Senator, John McCain, the leader of Tunisia’s Ennahda party, Rachid Ghannouchi, the former Arab League Secretary General, Amr Moussa, the President of Exxon Mobile Corporation, Rex Tilerson, and Chevron’s Vice President for Business Development, Jay Pryor.

President Barzani also met with Miroslav Dusek, the Senior Director and Head of Middle East and North Africa at the World Economic Forum and discussed future plans between the KRG and the World Economic Forum.

The President was accompanied on his visit to Davos by his Chief of Staff, Dr Fuad Hussein, the KRG Minister of Natural Resources, Ashti Hawrami, and the Head of the KRG Department of Foreign Relations, Minister Falah Mustafa.

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