PM Abadi urges dialogue to resolve sovereignty disputes with Kurdistan

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.

Baghdad ( Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has urged dialogue and cooperation as means to resolve sovereignty disputes with the autonomous Kurdistan Region regarding Kirkuk province.

Speaking during his weekly press conference in Baghdad late Tuesday, Abadi said he hoped issues related to disputed regions would be settled through “collaboration and dialogue”, adding that “Baghdad stands on an equal distance from all components (Of the Kurdish people) as part and parcel of the country”.

Earlier this month, the provincial council of Kirkuk voted for running a referendum on the province’s secession from Iraq and joining the autonomous Kurdistan Region, further heating up a dispute of sovereignty between Baghdad and Erbil. The assembly made another vote turning down an Iraqi parliament decision which had annulled the province’s move to raise Kurdish flags alongside Iraqi ones above government facilities there.

During the conference, Abadi said the referendum cannot be run while Islamic State militants still occupy areas in the province and as thousands of civilians from the province are displaced.

Kirkuk is one area where Kurdistan Region disputes sovereignty with Iraq. Its population comprises Arab, Kurdish and Turkmen ethnicities.

Kurdistan gained autonomous governance based on the 2005 constitution, but is still considered a part of Iraq. The region was created in 1970 based on an agreement with the Iraqi government, ending years of fierce fighting.

Both governments in Iraq and Erbil engaged in political spats over regions recaptured by Kurdish Peshmerga (army) troops from the Islamic State militants since campaigns against the group launched in October. While Kurdish politicians and MPs occasionally reiterated they were not going to cede those areas, Baghdad said it was expecting Kurdish troops to pull out after IS is eliminated

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