By Idris Okuducu
ERBIL, Iraq (AA) - Iran and northern Iraq’s Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) hope to increase cross-border trade volumes by increasing the number of border crossings between them, local officials said Tuesday.
According to Aballah Akrayi, an official at the KRG’s foreign relations department, relations between Tehran and Erbil (the KRG’s administrative capital) have thawed noticeably since KRG Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani visited Tehran last month.
According to official KRG figures, Iran represents the Kurdish region’s second largest trading partner after Turkey.
In an effort to further enhance Iran-KRG trade, Tehran and Erbil have reportedly agreed to raise the number of border crossings between them to six from a current three.
According to Iraqi government statements, experts from both sides have already carried out ground inspections in areas where they hope to set up new border terminals able to accommodate commercial traffic.
The areas that have reportedly been designated for new crossings are (from north to south) Sairan-Band; Qalat near Sulaymaniyah; and Choshma in Halabja.
There are currently nine official crossings situated along Iraq’s 1,450-kilometer border with Iran.