Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with the Iraqi Kurdistan Region President Masoud Barzani today to discuss a range of issues, including the important role of the Kurdish Peshmerga and the Kurdish people in the fight against ISIL. Deputy Secretary Blinken offered condolences to President Barzani for the people who have lost their lives throughout Iraq from terrorist attacks, including more than one thousand Kurdish Peshmerga who have fallen victim to ISIL’s brutality and the many more who have been wounded.
Deputy Secretary Blinken emphasized the United States’ strong and continued support to a united, federal, and democratic Iraq, as enshrined in the Iraqi constitution. He also praised the strong cooperation between the Kurdistan Regional Government and the new Government of Iraq led by Prime Minister Haider Al Abadi. In particular, he cited the joint operation centers in Baghdad and Erbil, where we coordinate operations and share information; and the four Build Partner Capacity training sites in Iraq, including one near Erbil, to advise and train Iraqi Security Forces. He stressed our commitment to working with the Coalition and the Government of Iraq to strengthen these programs and provide the Iraqi Security Forces and the Kurdish Peshmerga the military assistance required to defeat ISIL.
Deputy Secretary Blinken and President Barzani also discussed the deepening humanitarian crisis in Iraq, where 2.7 million people have been displaced since January 2014. They noted the urgent need for additional support from the international community to address the humanitarian needs. The Deputy Secretary thanked the Kurdistan Regional Government for hosting hundreds of thousands of displaced Iraqi men, women, and children as well as nearly 250,000 Syrian refugees. He emphasized the United States’ decade-long support for displaced Iraqis, and noted the recent contribution of $200 million to support the humanitarian needs confronting the Government of Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government.
The Deputy Secretary also underscored the historic relationship the United States shares with the Kurdistan Regional Government and its people and emphasized our full commitment to that relationship. Both leaders recognized that Iraq is on the front line in the war against ISIL and that Iraq, the United States, the region, and the international community must stand together to face this threat. President Barzani thanked the United States for its steadfast support for the Kurdish region and people over the years and especially in the current fight to combat ISIL.