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KURDISTAN AIRPORTS EXPECTED TO OPEN IN 2 WEEKS: MP

Delegates from the Two Governments Reached a Tentative Agreement Last week, to Bring the Airports Under 'Iraqi Civil Aviation Law

International flights should resume in the Kurdistan Region within the next two weeks, according to an MP who said there is good understanding between Erbil and Baghdad on the issue.

“Baghdad has two demands and the Kurdistan Region delegation was okay with both of them: jointly running the airports and returning their income to Baghdad,” said Nawzad Rasul, an MP with the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) in the Iraqi parliament, adding that dialogue is ongoing.

“International flights at the Kurdistan Region airports will resume in the next two weeks,” he said, basing his estimate on information from officials in Baghdad.

The past few weeks have seen a spike in talks between Erbil and Baghdad after months of frozen relations following the independence vote in September.

“The Kurdistan Regional government (KRG) through the committees it has formed for dialogue has shown Baghdad that it has taken legal measures and has left Baghdad with no excuses,” said Masoud Haider, a Gorran MP in the Iraqi parliament.

The committees formed for dialogue have met at border ports, he added.

Except for the flight that brought the body of former Iraqi president Jalal Talabani from Berlin to Sulaimani and the plane that flew PUK leader Kosrat Rasul from Sulaimani to Berlin to receive medical treatment, it has been four months since the last international flight landed at a Kurdistan Region airport.

Baghdad imposed its flight ban in late September. Humanitarian and military flights are not affected by the ban. Domestic flights are still operating.

Delegates from the two governments reached a tentative agreement last week, to bring the airports under 'Iraqi Civil Aviation Law,' following all instructions and regulations released by the Iraq Civil Aviation Authority (ICAA).

The agreement is pending approval from Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.

Manager of Sulaimani’s international airport, Tahir Abdullah, said they have received no news about reopening the airports following the recent meetings.

Technical teams from the Iraqi Civil Aviation Authority (ICAA) should arrive in the Kurdistan Region soon, a source from the council of ministers told Rudaw.

“And Haider al-Abadi in the next Iraqi council of ministers meeting is due to make a decision on reopening the airports,” the source added.

No timeframe has been set for reopening Kurdistan Region’s airports, though progress is being made, KRG Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani said on Monday.

“We are waiting for some technical matters to be implemented and, God willing, they will be opened as soon as possible,” he explained.

International pressure on Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to lift the embargos he has imposed on the Kurdistan Region is mounting daily. The greatest pressure is being applied with respect to the international flight ban, according to Kurdish MPs in Baghdad.

On January 16, the British ambassador to Iraq said the Kurdistan Region’s airports will reopen for international flights in the near future.

Spokesperson for the US State Department Heather Nauert said at the end of 2017 that they will be putting pressure on Baghdad to reopen the airports.

Source: Iraq Daily Journal

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