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Crocker meets with Kurdish leaders

Jan. 27, 2009 at 4:02 PM

ERBIL, Iraq, Jan. 27 (UPI) -- The people of Iraqi Kurdistan are pleased with emerging developments in the new Iraq, Kurdish leaders told departing American envoy Ryan Crocker.

Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani and President Massoud Barzani from the Kurdistan Regional Government met with U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker in the Kurdish capital, Erbil, as Crocker's tour draws down.

Crocker noted the Kurdish provinces had made great progress since his tenure began in March 2007, adding the people in Iraqi Kurdistan contributed to that effort.

Barzani praised Crocker's efforts as well, saying the KRG enjoyed warm relations with the United States as a result of the ambassador.

The president also noted the Kurdish people would continue to contribute to the general effort in Iraq by working toward a federal, democratic country, the KRG said in a brief on the meeting.

"We will defend the democratic process in Iraq, and we will stand in the way of any efforts to return Iraq to dictatorship," the president said.

Crocker, a career diplomat and former U.S. envoy to Pakistan, Syria, Kuwait and Lebanon, steps down in February.

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