KRG ‘ready to talk’ with Baghdad over bor­der con­trol and flights

The National - News - - NEWS - Mina Aldroubi

Iraq’s au­ton­o­mous Kur­dish re­gion said it is will­ing to hold talks with the cen­tral gov­ern­ment in Baghdad about a dispute over con­trol of Kur­dish air­ports, bor­der posts and banks after last month’s in­de­pen­dence ref­er­en­dum.

Iraq’s cen­tral gov­ern­ment has im­posed a ban on in­ter­na­tional flights to the Kur­dish re­gion and threat­ened to take con­trol of bor­der cross­ings after Kurds over­whelm­ingly voted for in­de­pen­dence in the Septem­ber 25 ref­er­en­dum.

Last week, the Iraqi cen­tral bank stopped sell­ing dol­lars to four Kur­dish-owned banks.

“To avoid this col­lec­tive pu­n­ish­ment, we in­vite Iraqi prime min­is­ter Haider Al Abadi, again, that we [are] ready to any form of dia­logue and ne­go­ti­a­tions in con­form­ity with the Iraqi con­sti­tu­tion,” the Kur­dis­tan Re­gional Gov­ern­ment (KRG) said yes­ter­day.

Kur­dish of­fi­cials of­fered dis­cus­sions “re­gard­ing the cross­ings, in­ter­nal trade, pro­vid­ing ser­vices to the cit­i­zens, the banks and the air­ports”.

The state­ment marked a change of tack by Kur­dish au­thor­i­ties, com­ing a day after the KRG se­cu­rity coun­cil ac­cused Iraqi forces and Ira­nian-trained Iraqi paramil­i­taries of “pre­par­ing a ma­jor at­tack” on Kur­dish forces in the oil­rich re­gion of Kirkuk and near Mo­sul in north­ern Iraq.

An Iraqi mil­i­tary spokesman de­nied any at­tack was planned, say­ing gov­ern­ment troops were pre­par­ing to oust ISIL from an area near the Syr­ian bor­der.

Oil-rich Kirkuk has emerged as a flash­point in the cri­sis be­tween Baghdad and Er­bil, the cap­i­tal of the Kur­dish re­gion, as it is claimed by both sides. An Iraqi court on Wed­nes­day or­dered the ar­rest of three Kur­dish of­fi­cials who or­gan­ised last month’s ref­er­en­dum.

Mean­while, on Tues­day, Iraq’s gov­ern­ment or­dered re­pairs to a dis­used pipe­line from north­ern oil­fields to a Turk­ish port, a step that could elim­i­nate Baghdad’s need to ex­port crude via the Kur­dish re­gion, fur­ther iso­lat­ing the in­de­pen­dence-seek­ing Kurds.

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