Kurdish President Masoud Barzani and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron held a phone conversation Monday evening and discussed the crisis between Kurdish and Iraqi forces, according to a statement from the Kurdistan Region presidency.
“President Macron expressed his concerns over the situation and tension between Erbil and Baghdad, and demanded the two sides exercise patience and prevent fighting and war, and stressed that the best option is to solve the problems through dialogue and negotiation,” the statement read.
Barzani detailed the situation and recent events to the French president who said he would make efforts to help Erbil and Baghdad “solve their problems through dialogue.”
Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi visited France late last month after the people of the Kurdistan Region and the disputed or Kurdistani areas voted to leave Iraq.
At a joint press conference at the time, Macron expressed his support for Iraq’s stability and territorial integrity. He said, however, that France and others were concerned about the situation in Kurdistan after the referendum, and stressed that dialogue is “the only path” going forward.
“France is ready… to contribute actively to mediation,” Macron had said.
Kurdistan and France enjoy historical relations that go back decades and were strengthened under former French president Francois Hollande.
Iraqi forces, supported by Iranian-backed Shiite Hashd al-Shaabi, took control of oil-rich Kirkuk and almost all disputed areas last week. Kurdish officials say over 150,000 people have been displaced.