William Hague has visited Erbil to underline the importance of political unity to leaders in Iraq. Speaking at a joint Press Conference with the President of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, he said:
I am very pleased to be in Erbil, and thank President Barzani for his hospitality and for our productive discussions. I am here to discuss with Kurdish leaders the urgent crisis in Iraq, which is a serious threat to the whole region. Kurdish security forces are playing an important role in holding ISIL back, and have already made many sacrifices in this vital struggle. We stand with you in rejecting the vile crimes of terrorists.
As in Baghdad yesterday, my message is the need for unity in facing this danger, and the need to form an inclusive new Government as soon as possible. We hope everyone, Shia, Sunni and Kurd will do what they can to make that happen.
I welcome yesterday’s announcement that the Iraqi Parliament will be convened on 1 July. I encourage all parties to attend so that the election of a new Speaker and President, and the process to form a new broad-based Government, can be taken forward in line with the Constitution. We believe as friends of this country that this is urgent and vital work.
I have also discussed the serious humanitarian situation. I thanked the Kurdistan Regional Government for their work to support displaced people. The UK was one of the first countries to give humanitarian help and there may be more we can and will do.
Finally, this is my first visit to Erbil. As well as discussing these immediate issues, it has been a welcome opportunity to reaffirm the strong relationship between the UK and the Kurdistan Region. It was a great pleasure to welcome the Prime Minister Barzani and his team to London in May, and it is a pleasure to return the visit. As we work together to help address the current crisis, we will also work to strengthen and deepen our wider relationship.