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