President Barzani holds second meeting with Vice President Biden and addresses US senators | |

President Masoud Barzani on Wednesday had a second meeting with US Vice President Joe Biden following their meeting at the White House on Tuesday with President Barack Obama.

President Barzani and Vice President Biden discussed in further detail the partnership between Kurdistan Region and the United States against the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham. They reiterated their commitment to defeating ISIS and helping the displaced.

President Barzani and his delegation met Tony Blinken, Deputy Secretary of State, and separately General John Allen, Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition Against ISIS, and other senior officials. In both meetings they discussed the current security, humanitarian, political and economic situation in Kurdistan and Iraw as well as the liberation of Mosul and the situation in the wider Middle East.

Mr Blinken, who hosted the President on behalf of Secretary of State John Kerry who is travelling, began his meeting by recognising the courage of the Peshmerga. 'I want to start by saying how much we appreciate and respect the extraordinary courage of the Peshmerga. We are honoured to be your partners,' Mr Blinken said.  General Allen also praised the Peshmerga and said the United States honours their sacrifice.

In each meeting, President Barzani thanked the United States for its vital support in the fight against ISIS and underscored his commitment to the partnership with America.

During these meetings , the security coordination between Kurdish forces and the US and coalition partners was discussed as well as the need to plan in detail the liberation of Mosul and its aftermath.

The President and delegation also updated members of the US Senate on the fight against ISIS as well as relations between Erbil and Baghdad. They met the Senate Leadership -- Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Democratic Leader Harry Reid -- as well as the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and Armed Services Committee. In all President Barzani and his delegation met about 25 Senators.

In a meeting with the Armed Services Committee, which is led by Senator John McCain, President Barzani was asked whether Kurdistan was receiving the weapons it needed. President Barzani thanked the United States and other Coalition partners for their assistance. He said the weapons and ammunition the Peshmerga had received had been essential in fighting ISIS but they were not enough and more was needed. He said the Peshmerg had used what weapons they did receive from the US and Coalition to good effect citing an incident in which ISIS launched an attack using 20 bomb-laden vehicles. Five were destroyed by airstikes and 15 by Peshmerga using Milan anti-tank rocket launchers. He said that if more such weapons were given to the Peshmerga the fighting would be more decisive.

Earlier in the day, President Barzani spoke at a public event jointly hosted by two leading think tanks, the Atlantic Council and US Institute of Peace. The event was attended by officials, policy researchers, advisors and the media, as well as Iraqi Ambassador Lukman Faily. At this meeting the President was asked about a wide range of current and longer term issues including independence for Kurdistan. He replied that it wasn't a matter of if but when and that it is the right of the people of Kurdistan to determine their own future.

On Wednesday President Barzani also met with representatives of the Caldean, Assyrian, Syriac Christian communities who now live in the United States. They expressed their appreciation for the Kurdistan Regional Government and Kurdish people for providing a safe haven to the Christians and other minorities that were targeted by ISIS.