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US Special Envoy Meets With Kurdish President Barzani

A group of high-level US officials including Brett McGurk, the special presidential envoy to the anti-ISIS coalition, came to Erbil to meet with President Masoud Barzani on Monday.

Joining McGurk were Douglas Silliman, the US Ambassador to Iraq, and Lieutenant General Stephen Townsend, commander of the US-led international coalition against the ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

Falah Mustafa, the Kurdistan Regional Government's (KRG) Minister of Foreign Relations, announced the visit via tweet.

He wrote the two sides discusssed KRG-US relations, Erbil-Baghdad ties and a way forward in a "productive meeting."

The US has led an international coalition to defeat ISIS, which Kurdish Peshmerga fighters have supported including the Mosul offensive that began on Oct. 17, 2016. US President Donald Trump, to whom McGurk directly reports, stressed cooperation over shared interests in a letter to Kurdish President Masoud Barzani earlier this month. Trump's letter was a response to one sent by Barzani expressing congratulations on Trump's electoral win.

Speaking in January, Barzani said he was hopeful of a good relationship with the Trump administration, noting that "many of those who are supposed to take high positions are acquainted and friends with me personally and Kurdistan."

US military forces in Kurdistan have trained, advised, and assisted Peshmerga, and last year the US pledged $415 million to go towards Peshmerga salaries.

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