Tillerson asks Barzani to postpone KRG independence referendum

Salih Muslim the leader of the PYD is shown in Europe

Iraq's Kurdistan region's president Massud Barzani looks on during a meeting with Muslim and Christian clerics of the Kurdistan region.

The U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Friday requested Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) President Masoud Barzani to postpone the independence referendum set for September 25.

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 commended the decision to send the Kurdistan delegation to Baghdad when he spoke with Barzani by phone on Thursday. Turkey, Iran and Syria, which together with Iraq have sizeable Kurdish populations, all oppose an independent Kurdistan.

The date of the referendum stands as it is, September 25, Dakhil said.

The Kurdish presidency statement issued on Friday said "the people of the Kurdistan Region would expect guarantees and alternatives for their future" in case the referendum was postponed. Iran has also said that such a referendum would not be appropriate.

According to a statement by Barzani's office, Barzani told Tillerson that the KRG made a decision to take care of itself after its efforts to coexist with Iraq failed. Barzani said in response to the USA diplomat's request. The Kurdish president declined, saying the United States administration has failed to provide guarantees or an "alternative" that would secure the future of Kurdistan.

Barzani, whose father led struggles against Baghdad in the 1960s and 1970s, told Reuters in July the Kurds would take responsibility for the expected "yes" outcome of the referendum, and pursue its implementation through dialogue with Baghdad and regional powers to avoid conflict.

Earlier in June, US State Department stated it was concerned that the referendum will distract from "more urgent priorities" such as the defeat of ISIS militants. However, the militants still control territory in western Iraq and eastern Syria.

Kurdish officials announced that the referendum will also take place in disputed areas to determine whether they would want to remain or not in Kurdistan, including the oil-rich Kirkuk region, north Iraq.

Responding to the Kurdistan leadership's move, Iraqi government spokesman Saad Hadithi said that Baghdad would not back any unilateral steps taken by Iraqi Kurdistan aimed at gaining independence, as such moves would violate the country's constitution.

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