Vice President Mike Pence spoke by phone today with Iraqi Kurdistan Region President Nechirvan Barzani. President Barzani and Vice President Pence discussed the security situation in northern Iraq, including the importance of enhancing efforts to bring stability to the disputed territories and allowing for the return of Iraqis, including religious and ethnic minority communities, displaced by conflict.

Vice President Pence commended President Barzani and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) for providing refuge for displaced civilians and for leading Iraq’s efforts to protect those impacted by conflict in recent years.  The two leaders noted the fifth anniversary earlier this month of ISIS’s horrific assault on the Yazidi community in Sinjar and pledged to cooperate to prevent any resurgence of ISIS activity.

Vice President Pence emphasized the United States’ concern that Iran-backed militias continue to undermine Iraq’s security and sovereignty and that the U.S. Government will consider additional steps to degrade such groups’ influence. He noted the United States’ July 18 “Global Magnitsky” designation of militia leaders responsible for human rights abuses in northern Iraq.

President Barzani and Vice President Pence discussed recent progress made in talks between KRG and Government of Iraq officials and the Vice President said the United States supports timely resolution of outstanding issues, including budget allocations and oil sales.  The leaders also discussed opportunities to deepen the U.S. partnership with the Iraqi Kurdistan Region, including in the economic and security spheres.