Iraqi Kurdish delegation visits Russia amidst ongoing Mosul offensive

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Members of the Peshmerga. File photo

ARA News 

Erbil – The Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) Minister of Foreign Relations, Falah Mustafa, on Tuesday met the Russian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and Special Presidential Representative for the Middle East, Mikhail Bogdanov. The two officials discussed bilateral cooperation and the military situation in Iraq and Kurdistan.

“Minister Falah Mustafa thanked Deputy Foreign Minister Bogdanov for his warm welcome and conveyed the greetings of the President and the Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Region,” the KRG’s Foreign Relations Department said in a statement.

“Deputy Foreign Minister Bogdanov, likewise, conveyed his greetings to the President and the Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Region and expressed the support of the government of Russia to the Peshmerga in the fight against ISIS,” the statement continued. “The deputy foreign Minister also commended the efforts of the Kurdistan Region in sheltering and supporting the Syrian refugees and Iraqi displaced people.”

The two officials discussed the role of Peshmerga in the fight against the Islamic State (ISIS), Erbil-Baghdad ties, humanitarian challenges and postwar governance and stabilization.

The KRG delegation is on a three-day visit to Russia, in an effort to improve bilateral ties, especially with regard to energy cooperation. Gazprom Neft, a subsidiary of Russia’s state-owned energy company, has been drilling in the Kurdistan Region for almost two years.

Moreover, in March Russia began supplying the Kurdish Peshmerga with materiel, in agreement with Baghdad. The Russian-made ZU-23 autocannon is already seeing action in the Mosul operation.

“The purpose is to assist Iraqi Kurds in combating ISIS and this purpose has never been concealed. Many countries, including Turkey, are assisting Erbil in this,” Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said last summer.

Speaking to ARA News, Timur Akhmetov, an independent Russian, said that the meeting was uneventful and in keeping with Moscow’s existing policies

“Russia, you know, is reluctant to deal with the KRG,” Akhmetov said. “Russia’s basic position is to deal with the Kurds only through Baghdad, so I don’t expect that this meeting will bring us anything [new].”

Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg | Source: ARA News 

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