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Baghdad ends air blockade of Iraqi Kurdistan
14 March 2018, 10:57 | Opal Carroll
Iraqi prime minister reopens Kurdish airports to international flights
Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi announced on Tuesday that the Baghdad government was ending its almost six-month air blockade on Iraqi Kurdistan.
The Iraqi government has made a decision to reopen the airports of Erbil and Sulaymaniyah, a report in Saudi Press Agency said.
The formal lifting of the blockade will take place in the next few days, Abadi's spokesman Saad al-Hadithi told AFP.
He also said that a new security directorate will be established to protect the airports in the Kurdish region and it will be under command and control of the federal Interior Ministry.
Al-Abadi described the move as "a gift to the people of Kurdistan", during a meeting aired on Iraqi state television and added that the central government would also release salaries for government employees in the Kurdish region ahead of the celebration of the Kurdish new year later this month.
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All Kurdistan-bound worldwide flights are now being rerouted to Baghdad, which has imposed entry visas on foreigners visiting the Kurdish region.
Local media said Monday Baghdad and the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) had agreed to demarcate a border between the two sides, in an effort to solve the issue of the deployment of Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq.
The ban on global flights on the region's worldwide airports of Erbil and Sulaimaniyah forced passengers to apply for an Iraqi visa to transit through Baghdad and Basra global airports to go or leave the Kurdish region.
Baghdad and Arbil have been engaged in a political and territorial struggle since the September 25 independence referendum.
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