Iraq VP: Kurds will freeze acting on independence referendum if rights ensured

Iraqi vice president Osama Al Nujafi says the Kurdish president has agreed not to act on the results of the recent independence vote if Baghdad ensures the rights of the autonomous Kurdish region.

It comes after Mr Al Nujaifi met with the president of the Kurdistan Regional Government, Masoud Barzani, on Saturday.

“Mr Barzani said, ‘We will freeze the results of the referendum if we reach an agreement with Baghdad’s central government that ensures the rights of the Kurdish region’,” Mr Al Nuaijfi’s spokesperson told The National on Monday.

As a first step, Mr Barzani said he wanted Baghdad’s sanctions on the Kurdish region to be lifted and for negotiations to begin between the two sides, Mr Al Nujaifi said.

Mr Barzani and Mr Al Nujaifi met on Saturday in the Iraqi Kurdish city of Sulaymaniyah, where they were attending the funeral of Jalal Talabani, former Iraqi president and leader of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan party. Ayad Allawi, one of Iraq’s two other vice presidents, was also present at the meeting.

The trio agreed to talks between Baghdad and Erbil, the capital of the Kurdish region, with an open agenda and to ensure ongoing meetings between the two sides.

How much weight this agreement carries is unclear, however, after Baghdad later rejected the meeting.

“The meeting that took place between president of Iraqi Kurdistan Masoud Barzani and Iraqi vice presidents Ayad Allawi and Osama Al Nujaifi does not reflect the position of the Iraqi government,” Saad Al Hadithi, the spokesperson of prime minister Haider Al Abadi, said on Sunday.

Iraqi Kurds voted overwhelmingly in favour of secession from Iraq in the controversial September 25 independence referendum.

Baghdad responded by banning international flights into the Kurdish region and threatening to take control of border crossings.

Mr Al Nujaifi’s spokesperson told The National on Monday that the vice president believed “the decision to hold the Kurdish referendum was unilateral and wrong”.




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