British Lord visits Iraq to strengthen UK-Iraq relations

Following his visit to Iraq, including the Kurdistan Region, Lord Tariq Ahmad, welcomed the UK and Iraq’s commitment to working together on shared challenges such as climate change, security, human rights and freedom of religion and belief.

During his visit he met President Mr Abdul Latif Rashid, Prime Minister Mohammad Shia Al Sudani, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Fuad Hussein, and National Security Advisor Qasim al-Araji.

In Erbil, he met KRI President Nechirvan Barzani, Prime Minister Masrour Barzani, as well as Minister of Interior, Mr Rebar Ahmed; Deputy Prime Minister, Mr Qubad Talabani and KDP President, Mr Masoud Barzani.

Discussions focused on shared challenges such as climate change, security, and human rights; deepening our historic relationship on trade and education; supporting priority areas of economic and digital reform in Iraq; and working together on regional and international issues of common interest, including the global implications of the Russia-Ukraine war.

The shared collective commitment to freedom of religion or belief was central to Lord Ahmad’s trip. He visited some of Iraq’s most significant religious sites and met with a wide range of representatives of Iraq’s religious and faith communities, including Ayatollah Hussein Al-Sadr, in Baghdad and representatives of the Yazidi community at the Lalish Temple.

He also bestowed an MBE on the Reverend Cannon Faez Jerjes of St George’s Anglican Church. Lord Ahmed’s discussions focussed on Iraq’s rich religious and ethnic diversity and the importance of interfaith dialogue in Iraq.

In meetings with senior politicians, civil society and religious leaders Lord Ahmad discussed the human rights situation in Iraq, especially issues facing survivors of Da’esh atrocities. Lord Ahmad welcomed the passing of the Yazidi survivors’ law in 2021 and reiterated the UK’s continued commitment to help the Iraqi government fully implement the law.

During his visit to Duhok, he also discussed the situation for Internally Displaced Persons and the importance of supporting their return and safe integration back into Iraqi society.

During his visit to Erbil, Lord Ahmad met with the President, Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government, Foreign Minister and Minister of Interior as well as the President of the Kurdistan Democratic Party and the President of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan. He visited the Department of Information Technology, where he learned about the support the UK is providing to help the Kurdistan Region of Iraq deliver digital reform.

Speaking at the end of his visit, Lord Ahmad said:

I am delighted to have returned to Iraq and the Kurdistan region to see how the relationship between our 2 countries is continuing to flourish. I am especially pleased that we are working together to address shared challenges such as climate change, human rights and security.

I was honoured to visit some of Iraq’s impressive and important religious sites and to meet religious leaders. This underlined the richness of Iraq’s religious and ethnic diversity, the need to protect freedom of religion or belief and the importance of interfaith dialogue.

I was glad to see that progress has been made with the passage of the Yazidi Survivors Law, but from my conversations with survivors it was clear they need continued support and full access to justice. The UK is committed to helping Iraq fully implement the Yazidi Survivors Law.

I was impressed with what I saw at the Kurdistan Regional Government’s state of the art Department of Information Technology I’m delighted the UK is able to support ambitious reform programmes in Iraq and the Kurdistan region. Meeting with business leaders and inspiring young professionals underlined that developing new economic expertise and encouraging bilateral investment and trade is of vital importance.

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