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ERBIL, KURDISTAN – IRAQ ( – A group of six Congressional senior staffers concluded a delegation to the Kurdistan Region on Friday, October 28 following four days of meetings with senior Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) officials, visits with refugees, IDPs, and Peshmerga , and to KRG institutions. The delegation consisted of staffers from foreign affairs, homeland security, and armed services committees.
The delegation focused on cultural, political, educational, current military and humanitarian challenges faced by the KRG, Peshmerga forces, and the people of the Kurdistan Region and Iraq.
During the first two days, the delegation was received by a number of senior officials and influential figures, including the Office of the Chancellor of the Kurdistan Security Council Masrour Barzani, Minister of Peshmerga Mustafa Sayid Qadir, KRG Spokesman Safeen Dizayee, Governor of Mosul Atheel al-Nujaifi, and Bishop of the Chaldean Church Warda. They also visited the KRG-US Joint Operations Center (JOC) and were briefed by Peshmerga and US Special Forces commanders on the offensive against ISIS.
The second half of the trip included a visit with Ezidi women rescued from Shingal (Sinjar), visits with KRG and US officials, and a visit to the University of Duhok. The Congressional staffeers were hosted by Chief of Staff to the President of the Kurdistan Region Dr. Fuad Hussein and the US Consul General Joseph Pennington for a discussion of KRG-US relations and the current situation on the ground in Kurdistan. The delegation met with administration officials at the University of Duhok to learn about how the university is coping with the recent influx of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs). The last stop by the delegation was a tour of the Erbil Citadel, an ancient fortified settlement in the center of Erbil considered to be the longest continuously inhabited place on Earth. The tour brought the delegation to view some of the ancient dwellings, schools, and mosques within the 1.1 million square foot complex.
The delegation marked the first US government delegation to the Kurdistan Region under the newly established Mutual Education and Cultural Exchange Act (MECEA) agreement between Iraq, KRG, and the US Department of State. The KRG Representation in the United States (KRG-US) extends its gratitude to Iraqi Ambassador Lukman Faily coordinating the trip. KRG-US Director of Congressional and Academic Affairs Karwan Zebari accompanied the delegation and coordinated the visit on the ground.
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