Pope Francis received Kurdistan Regional Government President Massoud Barzani on Friday.
Barzani's office issued the following:
Rome, Italy (KRP.org) – Kurdistan Region President Masoud Barzani met with Pope Francis at the Vatican on Friday.
At the outset of the meeting, Pope Francis said that he was aware of the situation of Kurds and of their tragedies in the past. He commended President Barzani and the people of Kurdistan for what they have achieved, particularly in offering the Kurdistan Region as a safe haven for Syrian refugees and for Christians fleeing violence in other parts of Iraq.
The Pope also praised President Barzani for KRG’s policy of promoting tolerance and peaceful co-existence among different religious communities. He expressed his hope that the KRG would continue to enjoy peace and prosperity.
For his part, President Barzani talked about tolerance in Kurdistan as a long-standing tradition that has popular support. He said that peoples of different religions have made sacrifices together in the past and now live side by side in peace and freedom.
On the situation of refugees and Christians who have sought refuge in Kurdistan, President Barzani said that the KRG would continue to provide assistance to them as a humanitarian duty.
Rudaw notes Barzani also met with Italy's Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini and that "the Kurdish flag was displayed alongside the Iraqi flag" at both meetings. Barzani's Chief of Staff Fuad Hussein explains, "Putting the Kurdistan flag is a message for the people of Kurdistan that the outside world understands the status of the Kurdistan Region. It's the recognition of the identity of Kurdistan's people and the legal identity of the people of Kurdistan." On the subject of the Kurds, Hiwa Barznjy (Niqash) explores where the Kurds stand on the issue of Iraq's next prime minister:
Parliamentary elections were held April 30th. May is ending but there's no one named prime minister yet. In 2010, Iraq set the record for the longest time between elections and the formation of a government. They've since been bested and Nouri may be hoping they can reclaim their title.
Nouri wants a third term but he's unwanted by so many political blocs and Iraqi citizens. Mustafa Habib (Niqash) notes:
Still on the issue of the elections, All Iraq News reports MP Nabeel Harbo states that his alliance (Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi heads the Motahidoun Alliance) is considering suing Iraq's Independent High Electoral Commission over the refusal to investigate serious allegations of voter fraud:
Speaking to All
Turning to Nouri's War Crimes, he continues bombing the residential neighborhoods of Falluja. Mu Xuequan (Xinhua) reports, "Separately, mortar shelling on several neighborhoods in Fallujah wounded seven people and damaged several houses, a medical source from the city hospital told Xinhua. Three of the wounded were from one family, the source said, adding that some of the victims are in critical condition."
National Iraqi News Agency reports a Yarmouk roadside bombing left three Iraqi soldiers, security forces killed 5 suspects in Hammam al-Alil, a Baghdad sticky bombing injured police brigadier Atheer Mohammed, security forces killed 15 suspects in Falluja, a Jurf al-Sakhar bombing left 4 people dead and ten more killed, 2 civilians were shot dead in Mosul, a Samarra bombing killed 4 people, and 1 corpse was discovered in Mosul.