Readout Of Secretary Perry’s Visit To Iraq And Kurdistan

on December 17, 2018 at 10:00 AM

ERBIL, IRAQ – Secretary Perry was in Iraq, leading a U.S. delegation for talks with government officials in Baghdad and Erbil. During the visit to Baghdad, he met with key leaders including: President Barham Salih, Prime Minister Adil Abd Al-Mahdi, Deputy Prime Minister for Energy and Minister of Oil Thamir Ghadban, Minister of Electricity Luay Al-Khateeb and Council of Representatives Speaker Mohammed Al-Halbousi. He then traveled to Erbil where he met with officials including: Kurdistan Democratic Party President Masoud Barzani, Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani and Chancellor of the Kurdistan Regional Security Council Masrour Barzani.

Secretary Perry’s visit also coincided with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce business mission to Iraq, one of the largest business delegations from the United States with over 50 companies represented. During a joint appearance with his Iraqi counterparts at the Chamber event, the Secretary emphasized the importance of a transparent, predictable, and accountable business environment to attract further investment in Iraq’s energy sector.

The Secretary made this trip ahead of the December 18th expiration of Iraq’s waiver from Iran sanctions. During his meetings, he delivered a firm message on behalf of the Trump Administration to the newly formed government that the United States is serious about its desire to help make Iraq energy independent, however further steps are needed to improve the business climate and reduce the malign influence of Iran. These steps include increasing oil production and exports north to Turkey to levels not seen since 2017. While the recent agreement between the new government in Baghdad and the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) has allowed for resumed oil exports through the Iraqi Kurdistan pipeline, work lies ahead to significantly increase exports, increase domestic electricity generation, and decrease natural gas flaring in order to utilize this readily available energy source. Ultimately, these efforts will reduce Iran’s influence on Iraq. The Secretary reiterated that it is a priority of the U.S. government to make this happen and we stand ready to offer our assistance in achieving this goal.