Wednesday, 22 October 2008, 12:40 GMT
Kurdistan President Massoud Barzani on his visit to Baghdad

Massoud Barzani, the President of the autonomous Regional Government of Kurdistan 'Iraq'


Kurdistan Region President Massoud Barzani returnes to Erbil.

After an eight-day visit to Baghdad, Kurdistan Region President Massoud Barzani today returned to Erbil, the capital of the Kurdistan Region.

On his arrival at Erbil International Airport, President Barzani held a press conference and talked about the outcome of the meetings he held with other Iraqi officials.

The President remarked, "We will not only protect and defend Kurds; we will also protect all the Iraqi people and the Iraqi constitution which Iraqis voted for," the President said. The President pressed this point, vociferously denying fringe allegations that the Kurds in Mosul are behind the attacks on Christians that have recently drove many from the city. President Barzani classified such ridiculous insinuation as baseless, extremely malacious, and a distraction from the real issue at hand: aiding the Christian families that have been forced to leave their homes out of fear for their personal safety.

One of the main reasons of the visit was to take part in consultations with other Iraqi leaders over the signing of a strategic framework agreement between Iraq and the U.S (SOFA). The President reiterated the Kurdistan Region's position and said "we are in favour of the latest proposal by the US government. We have always said that we are not in favour of any agreement that could violate the sovereignty of Iraq..."

On the sticking points between the Kurdistan Region and Baghdad, the President said that five committees have been established to hold discussions and report their findings to the leadership. The five committees will each deal with one of the following major sticking issues: constitutional matters and power-sharing, army and security, disputed areas, oil law and finances, and foreign affairs. The five committees will have representatives from Kurdistan Democratic Party, Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, Islamic Dawa Party, Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council, and Iraqi Islamic Party.

On his meeting with a Turkish government delegation, President Barzani said "this was a good first meeting. Turkey has refused to meet Kurdistan Region representatives in the past. This meeting is a positive development and will help our relations with Turkey. We only outlined general issues and did not discuss any details. We hope to discuss specific issues in future meetings in Turkey and in Erbil."