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UN pushes Kurd talks; Iraq, Turkey dismiss offer to freeze vote
by Staff Writers
United Nations, United States (AFP) Oct 26, 2017

Turkey says freezing Iraqi Kurd vote is 'not enough'
Ankara (AFP) Oct 26, 2017 - Turkey said on Thursday the Iraqi Kurdish offer for last month's referendum on independence to be frozen is "not enough", instead urging the Arbil government to cancel the vote.

"It is an important move that the northern Iraqi administration takes a step back but it is not enough. This referendum should be cancelled," Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said at a press conference in Ankara.

Turkey, along with Baghdad and other neighbouring countries, strongly opposed the Iraqi Kurds' non-binding vote on independence.

The Kurdistan Regional Government, led by Massud Barzani, said on Wednesday it would propose to the federal government "the freezing of the results of the referendum... and the start of an open dialogue" on the basis of the constitution.

However, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said Baghdad would only accept the annulment of the referendum.

The Kurdish offer came after Iraq seized large areas of territory that Kurdish forces had captured over the years beyond the borders of the autonomous region.

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim appeared to dismiss the impact of the offer.

"The northern Iraq administration can take whatever decision it wants from now on, it is obvious the decisions will not produce a result that would compensate for the damage," he said at a press conference in Ankara with Somali Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire.

Abadi was in Ankara on Wednesday where he met Yildirim and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to discuss the vote among other regional issues.

The leaders promised to strengthen cooperation as ties between their two countries as ties warm over their shared opposition to the vote.

The UN Security Council on Thursday urged the Iraqi government and regional leaders in Kurdistan to set a timetable for talks to end a crisis triggered by last month's Kurdish referendum on independence.

The appeal from the top UN body came after Baghdad dismissed an offer from Iraqi Kurdish leaders to freeze the outcome of the referendum, which delivered a resounding yes to independence, and hold talks.

"Council members noted that the federal and regional governments have both expressed willingness to engage in dialogue," said French Ambassador Francois Delattre, who holds this month's council presidency.

"We encourage them to expeditiously set a timetable to hold these discussions," Delattre told reporters after the meeting.

The council met behind closed doors at the request of France and Sweden to hear a report form UN envoy Jan Kubis on the crisis.

Delattre said council members were concerned by the increased tensions and reports of violence, and were calling on both sides to refrain from using force.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi earlier rejected the Kurdish offer for a freeze and demanded the annulment of the September 25 vote for independence.

Baghdad dismisses Kurd offer to freeze independence vote
Baghdad (AFP) Oct 26, 2017 - Baghdad on Thursday dismissed an offer from Iraqi Kurdish leaders to freeze the outcome of a vote for independence last month in a bid to pave the way for dialogue.

A spokesman for Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said the referendum had already been consigned to history by facts on the ground after Iraqi federal troops and allied militia overran thousands of square kilometres (miles) of disputed territory long claimed by the Kurds.

"They speak of freezing the referendum but our answer is this -- the referendum belongs to the past and we have finished with it on the ground," Abadi's chief spokesman Haidar Hamada said on Facebook.

Iraqi Kurdish leaders offered on Wednesday to freeze the outcome of the September 25 vote which delivered a resounding yes to independence, in a bid to ease the crisis in their relations with Baghdad.

The proposal came as world powers scrambled to avert any further escalation of the conflict between the key allies in the fight against the Islamic State group that has seen more than 30 combatants killed.

There had been no immediate response from Baghdad but the Hashed al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilisation) force, whose mainly Iran-trained Shiite paramilitaries played a major role in the operation against the Kurds, said a freeze did not go far enough and demanded the outright annulment of the independence referendum.

Iraq Kurds offer to freeze independence vote
Arbil, Iraq (AFP) Oct 25, 2017
Iraqi Kurdish leaders offered Wednesday to freeze the outcome of last month's vote for independence, taking a step back in a major crisis after Baghdad delivered a body blow by seizing swathes of disputed territory. The proposal came as world powers scrambled to avert any further escalation of the conflict between the key allies in the fight against the Islamic State group that has seen more ... read more

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