Iraqi PM calls Kurdish leaders for talks over independence referendum

Source: Xinhua| 2017-09-13 03:21:41|Editor: yan
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BAGHDAD, Sept. 12 (Xinhua) -- Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on Tuesday called for talks with Kurdish leaders over independence referendum of the semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan.

"I call on the Kurdish leaders to come to Baghdad to open the dialogue, and we must pay attention to those who are trying to escalate the pace of racism," Abadi said at a press conference after his weekly cabinet meeting.

"The Council of Ministers is for all Iraqis, and you are first-class citizens. Beware of being drawn into sedition that would waste what has been achieved," Abadi warned.

Abadi also rejected imposing a status quo by force from one side.

"Again I stress on the unity and the need for dialogue," Abadi said, adding "the referendum is unconstitutional."

Earlier in the day, the Iraqi parliament voted on a draft of law rejecting the Kurdish independence referendum, putting obligation on Abadi to "take all measures that preserve the unity of Iraq and start a serious dialogue to address outstanding issues between Baghdad and the Kurdish region."

Hoshyar Zebari, a Kurdish leading figure and former Iraq's Finance and Foreign Minister, said earlier in an interview with Xinhua that the referendum will be held on Sept. 25, after all the official bodies in the region completed their preparations in all aspects of security and logistics.

On June 7, the Kurdish President Masoud Barzani announced his intention to hold a referendum on the independence of the Kurdish region from Iraq on Sept. 25.

The independence of Kurdistan is expected to be opposed by some countries because it would threaten the integrity of Iraq and it comes as the Iraqi forces are in fight against terrorism, including the Islamic State (IS) militant group.

In addition, the neighboring countries of Turkey, Iran and Syria see that such a step would threaten their territorial integrity, as larger populations of Kurds live in those countries.