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US Urges Kurds to Call Off Independence Vote

17 September 2017

Meanwhile, the United States in its reaction said the plan for an independence referendum in Iraq's Kurdistan region will distract from efforts to defeat Islamic State.

Washington reiterated its opposition on Friday, with the White House saying in a statement that it was concerned that holding the referendum in disputed areas is "provocative and destabilizing" and calling on Kurdistan's regional government to call it off.

The parliament of Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan region on Friday approved an independence referendum on September 25, defying opposition to the vote from Iran, Turkey, Baghdad as well as the United States and the EU.

They fear increased tensions between Baghdad and Erbil will distract from the war on Islamic State militants who still occupy parts of Iraq and Syria.

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But Barzani has vowed to press forward despite unspecified "alternatives" offered by the United States this week to entice its Iraqi Kurdish allies to delay the referendum.

The referendum has become a potential flashpoint in the region, with Western powers anxious that it could fuel a conflict with Baghdad and distract attention from the war against Daesh.

"The German federal government regards the territorial integrity of Iraq as the highest good and views it as indispensable", he said. Iraq's central government has rejected the polls as unconstitutional and illegal.

The non-binding referendum is planned to see residents in provinces controlled by the KRG vote on independence from Baghdad on September 25.

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The Kurdish Peshmerga have said that they will continue their contribution to the US-led Global Coalition against ISIS including with the Iraqi forces despite the vote later this month.

Kurdish lawmakers convened parliament in Irbil for the first time in two years to pass the measure, with 65 out of 68 parliamentarians in the 111-seat body present voting in favor.

Mr Barzani was adamant that the vote would not be delayed.

The parliament session was the first held since the legislature was suspended almost two years ago, though only 68 of 111 lawmakers attended due to a boycott by the main opposition movement Gorran.

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It is also concerned that the scheduled referendum comprises disputed areas such has Kirkuk, which is home to Turkmen, Arabs, Kurds and Christians.

US Urges Kurds to Call Off Independence Vote