MESOP NEWS: U.S. diplomat: Kurdistan President Barzani to visit Washington in coming days

17 April 2015 – RUDAW – WASHINGTON,— Kurdistan Region President Massoud Barzani is expected to visit Washington DC to meet senior American officials as the US administration continues to support Kurdish forces against the Islamic State (ISIS), top US diplomat to Iraq Brett McGurk said on Thursday.

“We look very forward in fact having President Barzani here in Washington in couple of weeks,” McGurk, US envoy to the anti-ISIS coalition and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs (Iran and Iraq) told Rudaw. Rudaw contacted Kurdistan Regional Government Representative to Washington, Bayan Sami Abdulraham about Barzani’s trip and schedule, but she said that the president’s office is in a position to comment on the visit. Barzani’s visit to Washington comes at a time when the Kurdish Peshmerga are working closely on the ground with the US air force against ISIS, and according to McGurk, the Peshmerga are receiving arms supplies with any obstruction from Baghdad.

“So we are making sure that Peshmerga is very well supplied and so far with this new government, there has been absolute no delay, no obstruction to anything that we have tried to send to Peshmerga. That’s something we are going to continue,” McGurk added.

Complaints from Kurdish leaders that Baghdad was hindering foreign weapons destined for the Peshmerga prompted several US congressmen last month to introduce a bipartisan bill urging Washington to directly arm the Kurds and bypass Baghdad for the next three years.“We are very closely working with Kurdish Regional Government and Baghdad to make sure that Peshmerga fighters, patriotic brave Peshmerga fighters have everything they need in the fight against ISIS,” said McGurk. “We just delivered a number of anti-tank missile systems, Milan that was not a long ago and the Milan missile system; Peshmerga are using it effectively against Daesh suicide truck bombs.”On the same issue and according to the Department of State spokesperson, the U.S. has no plans to invite Kurdistan President Massoud Barzani to Washington any time soon. Speaking to NRT, Michael Lavallee described U.S. support of Barzani and Kurdistan as vital in the fight against the Islamic State (IS), but said there is no plan to invite Barzani to the U.S. capital.

Barzani postponed a trip to Washington in April 2014, saying he would make the trip at a more convenient time. Barzani’s delayed visit to the US has appeared to many as another indication of the weakening ties between the Kurdistan Region and Washington.