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US Asks Iraqi Kurds to Postpone Referendum
13 August 2017, 10:11 | Glen Norman
Salih Muslim the leader of the PYD is shown in Europe
Iraq's Kurdistan region's president Massud Barzani looks on during a meeting with Muslim and Christian clerics of the Kurdistan region.
US State Secretary Rex Tillerson has asked Iraqi Kurdistan's President Masoud Barzani in a telephone conversation to postpone holding the region's independence referendum, which is scheduled to take place in September.
Senior officials in Baghdad as well as in neighboring states of Iran and Turkey have voiced concerns over the planned vote, warning against largely Western-backed attempts to partition Iraq.
According to a Friday statement issued by Barzani's office، Tillerson asked the Kurdish leader by phone to postpone the referendum - now slated for October - and called for dialog between the Kurdish region and Baghdad.
The referendum would in any case be non-binding and is strongly opposed by neighbours Iran and Turkey, which have sizeable Kurdish minorities of their own.
According to the statement issued by Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) presidency on Friday, the President stated that the people of the Kurdistan Region would expect guarantees and alternatives for their future.
"The date is standing, September 25, no change", the Iraqi Kurdish official.
According to a statement by Barzani's office, Barzani told Tillerson that the KRG chose to take care of itself after its efforts to coexist with Iraq failed.
Tillerson made the request in a phone call with Barzani on Thursday, Zebari said. The Kurdish president declined, saying the USA administration has failed to provide guarantees or an "alternative" that would secure the future of Kurdistan.
The militants remain however in control of territory in western Iraq and eastern Syria.
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"We have to rectify the history of mistreatment of our people and those who are saying that independence is not good, our question to them is: 'if it's not good for us, why is it good for you?'", he said in an interview in the KRG capital, Erbil.
In 2014, Kurdish Peshmerga prevented ISIS from capturing Kirkuk after the Iraqi army fled in the face of the militants.
Responding to the Kurdistan leadership's move, Iraqi government spokesman Saad Hadithi said that Baghdad would not back any unilateral steps taken by Iraqi Kurdistan aimed at gaining independence, as such moves would violate the country's constitution.
Hardline Iran-backed Iraqi militias have threatened to expel the Kurds by force from this region and three other disputed areas - Sinjar, Makhmour and Khanaqin.
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