Italian defense minister, Iraqi Kurds hold talks

President of the Kurdistan Region Nechirvan Barzani, right, receives Italian Minister of Defence Lorenzo Guerini in Erbil, Dec. 17, 2019. (Twitter Photo)
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Updated 30 September 2020

Italian defense minister, Iraqi Kurds hold talks

  • Italian Defense Minister Lorenzo Guerini: The Italian presence in Iraq is not in question, and will continue as long as it is welcomed by the Iraqi people
  • Lorenzo Guerini: I hope that the NATO mission in Iraq will be reinforced, in full harmony with the needs of Iraqi institutions

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.”


US allows Jerusalem-born citizens to put Israel on passports

Updated 29 min 16 sec ago

US allows Jerusalem-born citizens to put Israel on passports

  • Jerusalem-born Americans will be able to specify either Israel or Jerusalem as their place of birth on passports and official documents
  • Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that the new passport policy was in keeping with the decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital

JERUSALEM: The United States will allow Americans born in disputed Jerusalem to list Israel as their place of birth on passports and other documents, according to a new policy announced Thursday.

The move came a day after the United States amended science accords signed with Israel to apply to institutions in the occupied West Bank. The changes, enacted days before the US election, appeared to be aimed at shoring up the support of evangelical Christians and other Israel backers.

President Donald Trump’s administration broke with decades of US policy by recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in 2017 and later moving the embassy there from Tel Aviv, where most other countries maintain their missions.

Israel captured east Jerusalem in the 1967 Middle East war along with the West Bank, territories the Palestinians seek as part of their future state. Israel considers the entire city its capital while the Palestinians want their own capital in east Jerusalem.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement that the new passport policy was in keeping with the decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Jerusalem-born Americans will be able to specify either “Israel” or “Jerusalem” as their place of birth on passports and official documents.

Those who do not specify their place of birth will be listed as having been born in Jerusalem.

Trump released a plan to resolve the Middle East conflict in January that was rejected by the Palestinians.

The administration has succeeded, however, in improving ties between Israel and other Arab nations. In recent weeks the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan have agreed to normalize relations with Israel, giving Trump a string of foreign policy achievements ahead of the vote.

US Defense Secretary Mark Esper visited Israel on Thursday and met with top Israeli officials.

Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz, who visited Washington last week, said he was “deeply appreciative of our dialogue, which has ensured that Israel now has the tools it needs to contend with destabilizing forces in the region.”