Iraqi PM Reopens Kurdish Airports to International Flights

Iraq PM lifts flight ban to Kurdish region’s airports

Iraq PM lifts flight ban to Kurdish region’s airports

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi said that the decision was taken in order to facilitate the travel of citizens from the airports of Erbil and Sulaymaniyah, announcing the creation of a special protection authority at the airports of the Kurdistan region under the command and control of the Federal Ministry of Interior, the report said.

Airports in Iraq's Kurdistan region have been reopened to worldwide flights following the restoration of federal authority over the two airports, said a report.

It was not immediately clear whether the region would continue to maintain its independent visa system. The deputy spokesman for the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) said talks were taking place on the issue.

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The Iraqi government later imposed the flights ban on the Kurdish region as part of a package of punitive measures that also included blocking all the border crossings outside the federal control.

Tensions rose between Baghdad and the region of Kurdistan after the Kurds held a controversial referendum last September to approve the independence of the Kurdistan region and the disputed areas.

Al-Abadi said a higher committee will be formed "to oversee the management of the Kurdish region's airports to ensure their compliance with the federal government's standards".

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Relations between Irbil and Baghdad remain frosty, however. Kurdish lawmakers boycotted a recent vote in parliament approving the country's 2018 budget.

The blockade was extended in December for two months and then renewed in February for another three months.

Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga forces took control of the northern province of Kirkuk, home to key oilfields, in June 2014 after federal forces withdrew in their fight against the "Islamic State" group.

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