Italy’s new ambassador to Iraq last week visited the Kurdistan Region for the first time and met President Masoud Barzani. He came with a delegation from SACE, Italy’s export credit and project finance agency.
President Barzani and Ambassador Massimo Marroti, who arrived from Baghad, discussed bilateral relations and explored ways to further strengthen ties. Their meeting focused on the ongoing political challenges facing Iraq, relations between Italy and the Kurdistan Region, and the crisis in Syria.
Ambassador Marotti said that Italy attaches great importance to its relations with the Kurdistan Region and wants to further strengthen cooperation in education, culture, and trade. He added that the Italians currently working in Kurdistan are very satisfied with the cooperation they receive at both public and private levels in Kurdistan and act as ambassadors of Kurdistan in Italy.
The Italian ambassador also said that Italy plans to upgrade its diplomatic presence in Erbil to a full consulate general by the end of this year.
President Barzani said that the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) is equally keen to expand bilateral relations with Italy and it will provide all kinds of assistance for Italian businesses and investors interested in working in Kurdistan.
Ambassador Marotti also met the Head of Foreign Relations Minister Falah Mustafa. He was accompanied by Mr Simone de Santi, the Head of the Italian consular office in Erbil.
In his meeting with the ambassador, Minister Mustafa said, "We attached much important to our ties with Italy and are pleased with the level of engagement across key sectors."
Ambassador Marotti said, "We will be working to expand the Italian Embassy Office in Erbil into a full-fledged Consulate General to ensure we can provide in-house consular services and promote trade, culture and economic initiatives."
During the visit, SACE, Italy’s export credit agency, and Kurdistan International Bank, the region’s largest private bank, signed an agreement to support investments and trade relations and to strengthen cooperation in export credit. The parties made a commitment to organise technical training programmes, workshops and seminars aimed at promoting the use of suitable insurance and financial instruments. The signing ceremony was attended by the President’s Chief of Staff Dr Fuad Hussein, Planning Minister Ali Sindi, Governor of Erbil Nawzad Hadi, and KRG Spokesman Safeen Dizayee.
The ambassador, Mr Simone and the SACE representatives met Italian companies already operating or interested in doing business here, and participated in an Italy-Kurdistan Region Business Luncheon with Kurdish and Italian companies. He also met Minister for the Interior Karim Sinjari and other government officials.