Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani kicked off on Tuesday a visit to the Kurdistan Region, his first since assuming his post in October.
He met with Kurdish Prime Minister Masrour Barzani, head of the Kurdistan Democratic Party and former Kurdistan President Masoud Barzani, and several senior officials.
Sudani is accompanied by a delegation that includes the ministers of foreign affairs, interior, planning, and migration and the displaced, deputy prime minister, secretary of the national security agency and several advisors.
After meeting Masoud Barzani, Sudani’s office said the PM underlined his “government’s keenness on reaching out to all political forces and achieving more understandings.”
For his part, Masoud Barzani welcomed the visit, expressing his support to Sudani’s government agenda, especially regarding articles on improving the Iraqi economy.
After meeting PM Barzani, Sudani praised the “spirit of collective work and cooperation and the sincere desire to resolve all differences between Baghdad and Erbil.”
He remarked that during the four months that his government has been in office “it has made strides in carrying out part of the political agreement” reached with Kurdistan.
He underscored keenness to resolve disputes and move on to “broader horizons of joint work and economic opportunities that would benefit our people in Kurdistan and all provinces.”
For his part, Masrour Barzani tweeted: “The PM’s goodwill is recognized and important to restoring trust. The federal budget bill and progress on oil and gas give us stakes in our finances and lay foundations for deeper ties.”
Sudani had announced on Monday that an agreement was reached to resolve oil and gas disputes between Baghdad and Erbil. The agreement calls for depositing Kurdistan’s oil and gas revenues in one bank account, which the Iraqi and Kurdish prime ministers have access to.
Relations between the federal government in Baghdad and Kurdistan have been fraught with tensions for years. They have differences over disputed regions and the implementation of article 144 of the constitution related to the Kirkuk province.
Even though most of the disputes have remained unresolved and appear unlikely to be resolved any time soon, relations between Baghdad and Erbil were not always strained. Some observers have noted that ties between Erbil and the former Iraqi government of PM Mustafa al-Kadhimi were good.