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US Urges Kurds to Call Off Independence Vote

17 September 2017

During a phone call on September 15, Yıldırım told al-Abadi that the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) decision to hold an independence referendum on September 25 is an "entirely wrong step", while adding that Baghdad and Ankara need to work together to prevent the move.

Western officials have once again pressed on Kurdish leaders to cancel the 25 September independence referendum by threatening not to grant worldwide legitimacy to the elections.

"The United States has repeatedly emphasised to the leaders of the Kurdistan Regional Government that the referendum is distracting from efforts to defeat ISIS and stabilise the liberated areas", the White House said in a statement on Friday following the vote by Kurdish lawmakers.

Moves toward independence are strongly opposed by Baghdad.

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

The plan ignored opposition from Baghdad and the wider region as well as Western concerns that the vote could spark fresh conflict.

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"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".

The results will be binding on President Masoud Barzani and the Kurdish government, which agreed to hold the referendum after a June 7 meeting.

"Heading into a referendum for September 25, there is no prospect for global legitimacy", said McGurk after a delegation from the United States, Britain and the United Nations met KRG leaders.

It was a dispute between Gorran and the KDP that caused the assembly to suspend its sessions in 2015.

Oil-rich Kirkuk is home to a mix of Arabs, Kurds, Turkmen and Christians. It is claimed by both the Kurds and the central government in Baghad.

Kurdish peshmerga fighters seized Kirkuk and other disputed territories when the Iraqi army collapsed in the face of Daesh in 2014, preventing its oilfields from falling into the hands of the terrorist group.

US Urges Kurds to Call Off Independence Vote