ROME: Italian Defense Minister Lorenzo Guerini and Iraqi-Kurdish officials discussed in Erbil on Wednesday the international coalition’s efforts to eliminate Daesh.
“Italy sees as a priority the fight against terrorism, and considers as essential the presence of the coalition forces in Iraq,” said Guerini.
“I hope that the NATO mission in Iraq will be reinforced, in full harmony with the needs of Iraqi institutions,” he added.
“The Italian presence in Iraq is not in question, and will continue as long as it is welcomed by the Iraqi people.”
Guerini discussed with Nechirvan Barzani, president of Iraqi Kurdistan, the security situation in Iraq. They affirmed the importance of cooperation until Daesh is eliminated.
Barzani said Iraqi Kurdistan is concerned about security developments in Iraq and armed factions’ threats against diplomatic missions.
He added that the efforts of diplomatic missions and the international coalition in Iraq are important and necessary, and that their goal is to help and support the country.
Italy has about 1,400 military advisors in Iraq, including 800 in the Kurdish region who have trained more than 15,000 Kurdish fighters over the past five years.
Barzani thanked Guerini for Italy’s continued assistance to Kurdish forces and its role in the international coalition against Daesh.
In a separate meeting with Masrour Barzani, Iraqi Kurdistan’s prime minister, Guerini announced the resumption of Italian training of Kurdish forces, which had been interrupted due to the coronavirus pandemic.
An Italian Defense Ministry source told Arab News that the Iraqi-Kurdish prime minister reiterated the “importance of Italian and US-led coalition forces’ presence in both the Kurdistan region and Iraq.”
The source said the prime minister also stressed the Kurdish region’s commitment to supporting Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi’s efforts to stabilize the country.
Guerini said the anti-Daesh coalition “must continue to carry out its tasks … with renewed determination,” and “Italy is ready to support the development of the security forces … also on a bilateral level. The key target is to prevent the resurgence of terrorist actions.”
He added: “We believe in the region’s high strategic value and in the role that Italy plays in the stability of this area.”