United States urges Iraq's Kurds to call off independence referendum


"The leaders of the US, Britain and the United Nations would have had to commit to the date by which Kurdistan and Iraq would have negotiated Kurdish sovereignty - or commit to supporting a Kurdish unilateral declaration of independence".

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says his country will hold a high-level security meeting on September 22 to decide what response to take over a planned Kurdish referendum on independence.

The referendum has been opposed by Baghdad because it would threaten the integrity of Iraq and distract the ongoing fight against Islamic State militants by Iraqi forces.

The planned vote has faced strong opposition from the federal government in Baghdad as well as neighbouring Iran and Turkey, which fear it will stoke separatist aspirations among their own sizeable Kurdish minorities.

"Holding the referendum in disputed areas is particularly provocative and destabilizing", it warned.

On Friday, however, Mr Barzani dismissed alternatives offered by the United States to avert the referendum.

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It also called on the regional government "to seize this opportunity and to enter into serious negotiations with Baghdad".

Sixty-five of the sixty-eight parliamentarians present at the sitting in Erbil voted in favor of the referendum, Kurdish news agency Rudaw reported.

Iraq's Prime Minister says he received a call from his Turkish counterpart who underscored his rejection of the controversial referendum Iraq's Kurdish region plans to hold this month.

Under this plan, a well-placed source told AFP, the worldwide community will oversee negotiations on revenue sharing in Iraq's oil budget and payment for Kurdish militia fighters.

"Since the adoption of the new Iraqi constitution in 2005, successive governments in Baghdad have violated the constitution, and it is clear to the people of Kurdistan that Baghdad will never implement key provisions of the constitution".

There is widespread support among Iraqi Kurds for an independent state. It is claimed by both the Kurds and the central government in Baghdad.