US Senator visits Ankara, Baghdad, and Erbil

US Senator visits Ankara, Baghdad, and Erbil
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Republican Lindsey Graham promises to help Turkey with F-16s, reaffirms support for Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government

The influential politician began his trip to Turkey by meeting with Presidential Spokesperson İbrahim Kalin in Istanbul. Graham posted a series of tweets about the meeting afterward. The Republican senator said he had a “very productive trip to Turkey,” emphasizing Ankara’s importance as an ally. He acknowledged that the US and Turkey had a “problematic relationship at times.” Graham also pledged to support the Biden administration’s decision to sell F-16s and modernization kits to Turkey. “These fighter jets, in the hands of our NATO allies, will create a sense of stability and provide capability to the Turkish military that is most definitely in America’s national security interests.” He said.

Graham then flew to Baghdad where he was received by Iraq’s Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi. According to a statement published by the Prime Minister's Office, the two discussed ways to strengthen the bilateral relations “in such a way that serve the interest of the Iraqi and American Peoples.” Graham and Al-Kadhimi also talked about the continued US support to the Iraqi Security Forces following the end of the combat role of US forces in the country. The statement mentioned that Graham “affirmed the unlimited commitment to providing long-term assistance to Iraq, and support enabling Iraq to address security, economic, and social priorities.” Graham also “made it clear that the United States aspires for Iraq to be a major player in the Middle East.”

The Republican lawmaker’s next stop was Erbil, where he was greeted by President Nechirvan Barzani of the Kurdistan Regional Government. A statement issued by Barzani’s office said that the two politicians discussed the “latest developments against the war on terrorism, Erbil-Baghdad relations and the ongoing talks to resolve their disagreements, the situation in Syria and the Kurdish issue in that country.” According to the statement, “both sides stressed the importance of maintaining peace and stability in the wider region.” The two sides also “discussed the relations between Iraq and the Kurdistan Region with the neighboring countries and with the countries in the region, the latest developments in the region and other issues of mutual interest."