Iraqi Kurds under pressure to postpone independence vote

2017-08-12 15:10:21 GMT2017-08-12 23:10:21(Beijing Time) Xinhua English

BAGHDAD, Aug. 12 (Xinhua) -- Iraqi Kurdish leader Massud Barzani has been under pressure from the U.S. to postpone an independence referendum scheduled for next month, local sources said Saturday.

The vote has drawn criticism from both the Baghdad and Western governments, at a time as the war against the Islamic State jihadist group in Iraq is still unfinished, the sources said.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in a telephone call on Friday that it "would want for the referendum to be postponed and that the issues between the Kurdistan region and the federal government in Baghdad should be addressed through dialogue," Barzani's office said in a statement.

The Kurdish leader responded that were it to be put off, "the people of the Kurdistan region would expect guarantees and alternatives for their future."

The Kurdish regional government's representative in Iran, Nazem Dabbagh, said last month that the Kurds wanted Baghdad to meet their longstanding demand for plebiscites on incorporating other historically Kurdish-majority areas in their autonomous region.

He said they also wanted Baghdad to ratify laws on oil revenues and funding for the Kurdish security forces, known as the peshmerga, who have played a crucial role in the fight against IS.

The referendum would in any case be non-binding and is strongly opposed by neighbours Iran and Turkey, which have sizeable Kurdish minorities of their own.

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