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Barzani urges Kuwait to invest in Kurdistan – PM hails opening of Kuwaiti consulate

headline1IRBIL: Nechervan Barzani, Prime Minister of Iraq's Kurdistan region, lauded the recent opening of a Kuwaiti consulate in the northern region, but noted the need for greater foreign investments, namely by Kuwait, to help in shoring up the ailing domestic economy. Barzani, during a meeting with visiting Kuwaiti media personalities, affirmed that the Kurdish administration encourages current Kuwaiti investments, but hopes these businesses are boosted.

He underscored the significance of the recent opening of a Kuwaiti consulate in the northern Iraqi region, but stated: "We need greater participation on the part of the State of Kuwait," hoping to see more Kuwaiti-funded enterprises in the region. Following the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime in 2003, the regional government embarked on the construction of Kurdistan, partly by utilizing oil proceeds to develop various sectors including the industrial and agricultural fields. "However, emergence of Daesh last year surprised everybody and led to slowing down the construction process," Barzani said.

Now, the region is gripped with difficult economic and financial conditions, he said, explaining the dire need for external investments to shore up the local ailing economy. "Daesh" is an Arabic acronym that refers to the Islamic State. The group has occupied large swathes of land in Syria and Iraq, namely in Anbar province, but has gotten embroiled in ongoing fighting with troops of the Baghdad government and the Kurdish peshmerga forces.

The burden borne by the local administration has dramatically increased, partly due to the influx of Iraqis and Syrians seeking safety, Barzani indicated, noting that Iraqi Kurdistan's population of four million has grown by 28 percent. There are fears that number of the refugees coming to the region will swell due to the ongoing violence in other parts of Iraq and neighboring Syria. Barzani urged Arab states to follow Kuwait's example of offering generous aid to the refugees. Kuwait has hosted two international conferences in which donors pledged billions of dollars in aid for Syrian refugees. — KUNA

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This article was published on 12/06/2015