U.S. President Donald Trump and his French counterpart, President Emmanuel Macron, have agreed on the need for northern Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and Shiite-led Baghdad to resolve their Kurdish independence efforts-linked differences through dialogue, according to the White House.
A White House readout of a call on Monday between Trump and Macron reveals, “The Presidents agreed on the need for the Iraqi government and the Kurdistan Regional Government to resolve their differences through dialogue. President Trump and President Macron also discussed the path to peace in the Middle East.”
The United States has joined Baghdad, Iran, Turkey, and Syria in opposing the KRG’s efforts to become an independent state.
Trump and Macron’s conversation comes days after the French leader hosted KRG Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani in Paris on Saturday to discuss the ongoing friction between Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, and Baghdad over the September independence referendum that was overwhelmingly approved by the Kurds.
The Iraqi military and Iran-allied Shiite militias sanctioned by Baghdad—the Popular Mobilization Forces/Unites (PMF/U)—have been trying to pressure the KRG into dropping its independence ambitions since the vote.
Macron has been pushing for Erbil and Baghdad to engage in dialogue and work out their differences.
Referring to the outcome of his meeting with Macron and France’s efforts at bringing Baghdad and the KRG together, PM Barzani told reporters, “We welcomed and took France’s initiative very seriously. We have not yet been informed regarding the next phase … but they will inform us in the next one or two days.”
French President Macron established the framework for a “national dialogue” between the Erbil and Baghdad following Saturday’s meeting the Barzani, reports Rudaw.
During the meeting, Barzani said he stressed the Kurdistan Region was “committed to Iraq’s territorial integrity and to turning to the constitution as a [source] to resolve the issues.”
PM Barzani said that Erbil and Baghdad have not engaged in any talks “until now.”
Baghdad has demanded that the KRG cancel the outcome of the independence referendum, but Kurdistan has refused.
Meanwhile, Rudaw notes, “Iraq has so far refused to commit to unconditional negotiations with the KRG despite Erbil offering to freeze the results of the Kurdish vote and respecting a ruling from an Iraqi Federal Court that decided the Iraqi constitution does not allow secession.”
“But as I have said it many times and I am reiterating it today again, we are ready to talk to Baghdad,” declared Barzani. “But it is Baghdad that is not ready.”
Iran, Turkey, and Syria also object to Iraqi Kurdistan’s independence efforts, fearing it will motivate the Kurds within its borders to do the same.
Nevertheless, PM Barzani said KRG-Turkey relations are fine and “whenever it is necessary, we could see each other and God willing it will become more normalized in the near future.”