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Iraqi PM says Erbil-Baghdad ties much improved, praises French support

Iraqi PM says Erbil-Baghdad ties much improved, praises French support

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi on Friday said Baghdad’s relations with the Kurdistan Region are “in the best shape,” affirmed the Islamic State’s ongoing efforts for a resurgence, and praised France’s support for Iraqi reconstruction.

He made the comments during a press conference with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris.

Erbil-Baghdad relations

Despite lingering differences between Erbil and Baghdad, he said, relations between the two have been steadily improving and “are contained in important frameworks of dialogue and discussion.”

“We can solve many problems in Sinjar and Nineveh, in oil issues, and in border crossings,” he added.

In February, the Iraqi government and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) agreed to implement a new system put forward by the KRG to help standardize the movement of goods between border crossings and internal customs points.

Abdul-Mahdi said, “We have a single unified tariff customs all over Iraq because of the consensus that has been achieved among all the political forces [of the country].”

Following the Kurdistan Region’s independence referendum in late 2017, relations with Baghdad derailed as former Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi ordered multiple punitive measures against the region.

In November, top Kurdish statesman and head of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) Masoud Barzani visited the Iraqi capital to discuss Erbil-Baghdad disputes and express support for the newly-formed government headed by Abdul-Mahdi. It was the first such trip since Barzani played a central role in the independence referendum during his tenure as regional resident. His two-day trip included meeting with leaders across the spectrum of Iraqi politics.

In the months that have followed, a number of developments highlight growing cooperation between the two administrations.

Among these steps include the newly passed 2019 federal budget – which was backed by Kurdish lawmakers after amendments were made to the bill based on their suggestions – and the removal of domestic customs points – one of the measures imposed by Baghdad following the events of late 2017.