MESOP / STATE GOVERNMENT – WASHINGTON, April 17. 4. 2013 –  A senior delegation from the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) spent a week in Washington meeting with key Administration officials, Members of Congress, the U.S. business community and several non-governmental organizations.

The delegation, which included Dr. Fuad Hussein, President Barzani’s Chief of Staff; Minister Ashti Hawrami, the KRG Minister of Natural Resources; Minister Falah Bakir, the Head of the Department of Foreign Relations; and Minister Qubad Talabani, the Head of the Department of Coordination and Follow Up, highlighted ongoing progress in Kurdistan and discussed serious challenges facing the federal government in Iraq.

During meetings with both Tony Blinken, Deputy National Security Adviser for President Obama, and Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Beth Jones, Dr. Hussein reiterated the KRG’s commitment to a federal, democratic, unified Iraq.  “We believe in Iraq’s constitution, and will not sway from it,” he said. “We told our American friends that all sides must abide by it.”  The Acting Assistant Secretary emphasized that “the United States remains committed to the vision of Iraq as defined in the Iraqi constitution.”

The delegation briefed both government and non-government interlocutors about a range of timely political and economic issues that have implications in Iraq and the broader Middle East.

On Syria, Dr. Hussein said that the Kurdish community in that country, numbering close to three million people, is a voice of moderation.  For its part, the KRG has accepted over 110,000 refugees from Syria.  Referring to Syrian refugees and other minorities including Christians from other parts of Iraq, Dr. Hussein said, “We welcome all peoples in harm’s way, no matter whom they are or where they come from.”

The delegation met with Congressional leaders and other key members of Congress, both Democrats and Republicans including the House Majority Leader, Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA); Rep. Christopher Van Hollen (D-MD); Foreign Affairs Committee chairman, Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA); Intelligence Committee chairman, Mike Rogers (R-MI); Senator  John McCain (R-AZ); Senator  Roger Wicker (R-MS), as well as members of the Kurdish American Congressional Caucus including its new Democratic co-chair, Rep. Jarred Polis (D-CO).

The KRG ministers also held meetings with senior officials from other think tanks, institutions and universities. Dr. Hussein delivered remarks at George Washington University and the delegation later visited the Atlantic Council, where Minister Hawrami gave a talk about the KRG’s oil and gas policies. Over 200 people attended, ranging from government officials to experts in the oil and gas sector, investors and heads of companies. The delegation was also hosted by the United States Kurdistan Business Council (USKBC) and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Iraq Business Initiative.  The delegation thanked the USKBC and the Chamber and their participating companies for their valuable role in Kurdistan’s development.

Readout of Acting Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs Beth Jones’ Meeting with Iraqi Kurdistan Region Delegation: