Kurd leader says referendum will go forward


The Kurdish official said that the reports quoted Pavel Talabani, the son of former President Jalal Talabani, who was expressing his personal opinion.

Iraqi Kurdish leader Massud Barzani on Saturday delayed a scheduled news conference on a controversial independence referendum he has called for next week as worldwide pressure mounts for a postponement.

Kurdish oil is exported north to Turkish ports and at times was the target of attacks from the group calling itself the Islamic State.

The country has the largest Kurdish population in the region and is already battling a Kurdish insurgency.

"If referendum is not cancelled, it will have serious consequences". "We said we would talk to Baghdad before, during and after the referendum".

Leaders of Iraq's Kurdish minority said they will press ahead with an independence referendum despite the threat of sanctions by neighbors Iran and Turkey.

A referendum of independence for the Kurdish region of northern Iraq is set for September 25.

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A statement issued after a three hour-long National Security Council meeting on Friday that was chaired by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey would exert its rights should Iraqi Kurds go ahead with the referendum despite Turkey's "warnings".

Ankara has forged close economic ties to the semi-autonomous Kurdish region but strongly opposes moves toward Kurdish independence.

The vote comes days before Iraqi Kurds are to vote on their independence from Baghdad but the two elections are not related.

Parliament is debating a motion to allow the extension of Turkey's authority to launch cross-border military operations in northern Iraq and Syria for another year.

The referendum raises most risk of ethnic conflict in the oil city of Kirkuk, which lies outside the recognised boundaries of the Kurdish region and is claimed by Baghdad.

Despite tensions over the referendum, Iraqi forces on Friday recaptured IS-held Sharqat on their drive to retake the nearby northern town of Hawija back from the jihadists. Barzani told the crowd they would look the proposal over, but if their "objective is to just delay the referendum, the referendum will not be postponed".