Masoud Barzani, leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), on Monday met with Irvin Hicks Jr., the new United States consul general in Erbil, discussing bilateral relations between Washington and Erbil.
Hicks assumed his role as the US consul to Erbil on Thursday, replacing Robert Palladino, whose mandate came to an end in July.
“The consul general in Erbil acknowledged the Kurds’ struggle and sacrifice towards freedom in face of dictatorship, adding that achieving happiness and freedom are common points between the people of America and the people of Kurdistan,” read a statement from Barzani’s office.
The two emphasized developing Erbil-Washington relations, especially addressing the US’ cooperation with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in developing the private sector and providing more job opportunities.
The US initially opened a diplomatic office in Erbil in February 2007, which was later upgraded to a consulate general in 2011. A new consulate building, which is set to be the US’ biggest consulate, is under construction in the Kurdish capital.
Hicks has previously served as senior advisor to the US international narcotics and law enforcement bureau, as well as foreign policy advisor for the Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa in Djibouti, among other US governmental and diplomatic positions. He has a bachelor’s degree in International Affairs and African studies, and has two Master of Arts degrees in Law and Diplomacy, and National Security Studies.
The Kurdistan Region and the US enjoy a strong relationship. Washington has provided Kurdish Peshmerga with millions of dollars, as they were and remain key allied in the fight against the Islamic State (ISIS).