UN urges Iraqi Kurds to drop referendum plan, hold talks
Baghdad, Iraq - The United Nations has urged Iraqi Kurdish leader Massud Barzani to drop plans for an independence referendum and enter talks with Baghdad aimed at reaching a deal within three years.
Jan Kubis, the top UN envoy in Iraq, offered international backing for immediate negotiations. He proposed ‘structured, sustained, intensive and result-oriented partnership negotiations... on how to resolve all the problems and outstanding issues’ between Baghdad and Arbil.
Kubis called for talks, overseen by the UN Security Council, that would aim to reach a deal defining ‘principles and arrangements’ for future relations between Baghdad and the Kurdistan Regional Government. In return, Barzani’s administration would agree to postpone the referendum at least until the end of negotiations.
The US too on Friday warned the vote was distracting from the fight against the IS.
‘The US has repeatedly emphasised to the leaders of the Kurdistan Regional Government that the referendum is distract- ing from efforts to defeat ISIS and stabilize the liberated areas’, the White House said a statement.
‘Holding the referendum in disputed areas is particularly provocative and destabilising’, it added.
Iraqi Kurds fly Kurdish flags during an event to urge people to vote for independence in Arbil, in northern Iraq, on Friday