President Masoud Barzani discuss independence 'seriously' with Vice President Pence
By Rudaw 8 hours ago

MUNICH, Germany--President barzani "seriously discussed" the issue of Kurdistan independence with the the US Vice President Mike Pence on Saturday in Munich, Barzani's senior advisor who also attended both leaders' meeting told Rudaw TV.
“The question of Kurdistan’s independence was seriously discussed,” Hemin Hawrami said, President Barzani discussed this issue with the US Vice President very seriously

Earlier Muhammad Haji Mahmud, known as Kaka Hama, a veteran Kurdish commander who is also part of the Kurdish delegation headed by President Barzani told Rudaw that they have discussed the question of Kurdish independence with all the delegations they have met with on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference in Germany, including Iran and the US, with the US senators said to to be “more enthusiastic” than the Kurds themselves
Kaka Hama made the remarks as President Barzani was in the middle of a meeting with the US Vice President Mike Pence

In a tweet following the meeting, Mr Pence said that they have discussed with President Barzani “the need to accelerate plans to defeat ISIS while thanking him for “cooperation with Baghdad
Follow (Tweet Below)
*Vice President Pence ✔ @VP
Discussed need to accelerate plans to defeat ISIS with KRG @President_Barzani & thanked him for cooperation w/ Baghdad*
6:50 AM - 18 Feb 2017

Kaka Hama was not present personally in that particular meeting. He was part of the delegation however in other meetings, including with the US Defence Secretary James Mattis on Friday, the first such meeting between top Kurdish and US officials since the new administration took office in the White House

The question of independence was one of the topics. It was discussed with all the delegations,” Kaka Hama said. The solution might not be easy; 80 years of Sunni governance in Iraq, and 11 years of Shiites [rule] in Iraq These have to be reviewed again, because these examples were not successful That is why we can be good neighbors, which is much better than the problems we have [between us] on a daily basis in the region.”

When asked with whom the delegation brought up the issue, Kaka Hama said there were no exceptions.

The issue has been discussed with all the delegations with no exceptions: with Kuwait, with the US, Germany, the UN--with everyone we have met he explained, naming the countries they held meetings with since Friday

The feedback, he noted, was mixed but he seemed happy with one delegation--a group of US senators, which included the US Republican Senator John McCain said to be more enthusiastic than the Kurds themselves

Some of them may keep silent--some of them are silent Some of them say it is your right Kaka Hama said in response to the stance of these countries and international bodies. Some of them are 100 per cent with us Today [in the meeting] with the US senators--John McCain and other US senators, they were more enthusiastic than us

Kaka Hama said that it is now all down to the Kurds to go ahead with the long-pursued Kurdish independence

“These are all important,” Kaka Hama said, apparently moved by the US senators' support for Kurds “Certainly, I believe it all remains for us the Kurds to take the decision I do not think there are any more steps we should take externally

Asked specifically about their meeting with the US senators, he said they received assurance that Kurds will not be abandoned, never again perhaps in reference to the past betrayals by the US administrations in particular the 1970s, when then Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger withdrew the armed support for the Kurdish rebellion in 1975 against the Iraqi regime under Saddam Hussein

All we heard in the room was [the message] of support And that the Kurds will not be abandoned again Kaka Hama said

The statement released by the The Kurdish Presidency on the meeting with the US Secretary of Defense James Mattis did not mention independence as one of the topics, neither with any other delegations on Friday.

President Barzani also met with Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Friday a diplomatic move described as “balanced by Hemin Hawrami, a senior advisor to President Barzani who is also with him on this visit.

Hawrami said it shows that Kurdistan Region has been able to keep the balance in its ties with both countries without taking sides

The relations between the US and Iran have recently hit another low since the latter test fired a ballistic missile and as the result, the new Trump administration imposed some new sanctions* on certain individuals and entities.

Asked about the response from Iran on the issue of independence, Kaka Hama somehow evaded the question by noting that independence will not be offered on a plate to Kurds an indication that Iran must have kept its long-held stance that it stands against the possibility for Kurds to break away from Baghdad

Ali Akbar Velayati, a senior advisor to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei* *earlier this week advised against dividing Iraq along sectarian lines* , according to Mehr News Agency.

Dividing Iraq into three Kurdish, Shiite and Sunni regions is contrary to the policies of Iraq and its nation and everyone should help preserve the unity of the country Velayati said in a joint press conference with the head of the Kurdistan Islamic Union (KIU) Salahadin Bahadin in Tehran.
He reiterated that Tehran supports Iraqi territorial integrity* *Mehr quoted Velayati* as telling Bahadin.

President Barzani and Mr Mattis held an hour-long meeting on the sidelines of the 53rd Munich Security Conference in the German Bavarian capital on Friday.
According to the statement issued by the office of the Kurdish president, Mattis said he “was familiar with the Kurdish cause and that Kurdistan and the US had made sacrifices side by side* *while also reiterating his country’s support for the people of Kurdistan*
The statement said Barzani and Mattis also discussed security and the Mosul offensive.
The US defense chief wished to visit Kurdistan Region in the near future, it said.
Kurdish officials have said they are hopeful the new US administration will remain committed to its support for the Kurdistan Region despite global uncertainty surrounding the future of US engagement in the world after President Donald Trump took office last month

Former US Ambassador to Iraq James Jeffrey who is currently a member of the US Defense Policy Board, told Rudaw on Friday that Washington supported the unity of all the sovereign states in the Middle East, including Iraq and Syria The US also enjoyed “a very, very strong relationship with the Kurdistan Regional Government Jeffrey added.
In a joint interview with Rudaw and Kurdistan 24, Barzani said last month that they hope they can resolve this issue with Baghdad through dialogue in which case Kurdistan does not need to take other steps
I discussed this subject with Baghdad on my visit to there Barzani said Reaching an understanding with Baghdad on this will pave the way to many other countries to recognize us That is why we will continue until we exhaust the path of dialogue with Baghdad to reach a positive result so we don’t have to take other steps But we will certainly take other steps if we lose hope in this (dialogue with Baghdad) We will not give up on this process We can be good neighbors with the future Iraq We were, however, unable to be good partners This is the reality and those who do not recognize this do not want to see the truth