On Friday, the prime minister of the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG), Masrour Barzani, and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken discussed “at length” during a phone call, debating numerous “issues of shared interest and concern,” as per a statement from Barzani’s office.
“On security developments, both strongly condemned rocket and drone attacks against the KRG, Iraqi bases, and global coalition forces. They agreed on the continued need for the presence of coalition forces in the country and support for the Peshmerga and Iraqi Security Forces in the fight against ISIS”, it held.
US-led coalition forces at Erbil International Airport were targeted with an explosives-laden drone in mid-April, one of two attacks on the city in recent months. KRG President Nechirvan Barzani told Iraqi local TV in an interview aired on Friday that the drone was “very big.”
Barzani and Blinken also discussed the KRG’s “aggressive” reforms, with Barzani telling Blinken that his cabinet has amplified revenues by organizing public finances.
The KRG has been fighting a financial crisis for years, particularly after the emergence of ISIS and budget quarrels with the federal government in Baghdad. To counterweigh the financial loss, the KRG has made reforms in salary payrolls and paid only a portion of the salaries of its civil servants.
Barzani urged Secretary Blinken to expand technical assistance and economic support to the KRG, and “encourage US investment in banking,” the statement added.
The upcoming Iraqi elections, Erbil-Baghdad relations, and the Sinjar agreement between Erbil and Baghdad were among other subjects discussed in the phone call.
There was no immediate statement from Blinken’s office.