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Erbil Air Base
Erbil, Iraqi Kurdistan

PRESIDENT BARZANI:  I would like, on behalf of Kurdistan region, with all its communities and denominations, to welcome Vice President Pence on his visit — first visit as Vice President to Erbil.  Your visit, at this particular time, is an important indication of your continued support to Kurdistan and Iraq.

I also take the opportunity to thank you again on behalf of all of the communities in the Kurdistan region for the effort and support that the United States military provided in our fight against ISIS, without of which we probably wouldn’t have been able in this way, today, we come together and gather in this fine city.  We thank you for all the support and contributions that you have made towards Kurdistan and Iraq.

We hope that you convey our sincere gratitude and thanks to President Trump.  And we are hopeful that the continued relationship between the Kurdistan region and the United States will continue to develop further and further in all the fields.

Thank you.  Welcome again.

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE:  Well, President Barzani, thank you so much for the warm welcome back to Erbil.  It is a great honor for me to return in my first visit to Iraq as Vice President and be able to come here to the Kurdish region.

And I want to extend to you, first and foremost, the greetings and the respect of President Donald Trump.  It is a very important week in America where families will gather over the Thanksgiving holiday.  And it’s a particular privilege for me and my wife, Karen, to be here and to celebrate an early Thanksgiving with our troops.

And I want to thank you, though, Mr. President, for making time for an important opportunity to discuss the enduring bond that exists between the Kurdish people and the people of the United States of America.

And I’m especially grateful to be able to be with you today in a time when we reflect on the extraordinary success of our partnership in defeating and capturing the territory of the ISIS caliphate.

In March of this year, because of the courage of our armed forces and the courage of the Peshmerga and our Kurdish allies in Syria, we were able to capture the last inch of territory controlled by ISIS in Syria.  And this would not have been possible without the extraordinary alliance and partnership between the Kurdish people and the people of the United States.

And, Mr. President, I just want to express to you our thanks and our enduring commitment to support your leadership here in the Kurdish region of Iraq, and also to remain resolved with you in ensuring that ISIS, Daesh, or any other terrorist settlements will not be able to gain a foothold in this region again and threaten your communities and ours.

And I hope that you will convey our gratitude and deepest respects to your great soldiers, and most especially to the families of your fallen who have made such extraordinary sacrifices in achieving what was not just a victory over ISIS this year for this region, for Iraq, for Syria, but really for the wider world.

So, Mr. President, thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to be here today.  I look forward to discussing ways that we can strengthen the relationship between the Kurdish region of Iraq and the United States of America for the betterment of both of our peoples.

But I also welcome the opportunity, on behalf of President Donald Trump, to reiterate the strong bonds, forged in the fires of war, between the people of the United States and the Kurdish people across this region.  And on that basis, we will — we will together build a peaceful and prosperous future.

And, Mr. President, I thank you again.