Iraq PM calls for national dialogue following Pope's historic visit

The war-torn country must seize opportunity to restore its historic role in the world, says Mustafa Al Kadhimi

Iraq's Prime Minister called on Monday for a national dialogue to resolve the country’s outstanding issues as Pope Francis ended his historic trip.

Baghdad held a farewell ceremony at the airport for the pontiff as he concluded his four day visit to the war-torn country with messages of forgiveness, coexistence and peace.

“My brothers and dear opponents, I invite you all to a sincere, open and frank dialogue with the government on the basis of the country's interest, security and sovereignty,” Mr Al Kadhimi said.

The talks, he said, will be based on preserving the security of Iraq, supporting the state and the rule of law.

The idea was presented as Pope Francis’ visit presented an opportunity to restore the country’s role in the world despite the challenges it faces, he said.

“The special visit, with all the manifestations of national consensus, embodied the essence of our loving, sincere, civilised people who believed in the values of justice and peace,” Mr Al Kadhimi said.

The prime minister said all components of the country are welcome to the table.

“We invite all the different political factions, youth, protesters and opponents of the government to the table to hold the dialogue,” he said.

Political factions and parties must “give priority to the interests of the homeland to prepare for the success of early elections and to give our people the opportunity to trust the state and the democratic system,” he said.

President of the Kurdistan Regional Government, Nechirvan Barzani, said he supports Mr Al Kadhimi’s initiative to resolve any disputes.

“To reach a final agreement and develop radical solutions to the problems of the Kurdistan Region with the federal Iraqi government in accordance with the constitution,” Mr Barzani said.

Pope Francis became the first pontiff to visit Iraq this week following a four-day trop that covered five provinces across the country.

At every turn, the pope urged Iraqis to embrace diversity and to unite for a better future. He called on them to work together and make peace.

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