Javad Zarif, Masrour Barzani meet in Germany

Rudaw – Iranian FM Javad Zarif and the security chief of the Kurdistan Region Masrour Barzani met in Germany on Saturday when Zarif stressed the need for better economic cooperation that could include free-trade and free-industrial zones.

Barzani is leading a delegation from the Kurdistan Region at the annual Munich Security Conference.

Zarif described the meeting as “very good,” reiterating last month’s “excellent” visit to “Iraq and Iraqi Kurdistan.”

“We discussed today not only our bilateral relations with Iraq and with the Kurdish regional government, but also developments in the establishment of the regional government of Kurdistan, the parliamentary arrangements, as well as regional issues with Syria,” he said.

The idea of a free-trade zone between the Kurdistan Region and Iran has been discussed to encourage trade and discourage double taxation.

“We discussed both free-trade zones and free-industrial zones. I think what is useful for both countries is for both countries, Iran and Iraq, as well as the region of Kurdistan, is to have free-industrial zones to use both the raw materials and the human resources of both sides and produce and use the possibilities for export,” explained Zarif.

“Our plans are for greater economic interaction between Iran and Iraq and Iran and the regional Kurdish government,” added Zarif, explaining that private sector deals were discussed during his visit to the Kurdistan Region.

US President Donald Trump has said that he wants to see Iranian exports at “zero,” although analysts see this unlikely given close ties with countries like Iraq.

“We are neighbors. We are actually the same people. We will continue to have relations. The outsiders will go sooner or later,” Zarif said while chuckling.

Barzani and Zarif also discussed “the situation in the eastern Euphrates and how to deal with the territorial integrity of Syria as well as making sure the rights of the Kurdish people in Syria are fully respected.”

Tehran is the Kurdistan Region’s second-largest trade partner behind Turkey.

Earlier in the day, Barzani met with German MPs Rudiger Lucassen, Anton Friesen, Berengar Elsner von Gronow, and Jens Kestner.

He also held talks with Geir Pederson, the UN Secretary-General special envoy to Syria.

On Friday, Barzani met with Iraq’s National Security Advisor Falih al-Fayyadh and Russian FM Sergey Lavrov.

Barzani has been tipped by the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) to become the Kurdistan Region’s next prime minister as government formation talks continue.