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Kurds offer talks with Baghdad to ease post-vote punitive measures

Iraqi Kurds announced an overwhelming 'yes' vote for independence. [Getty]

Date of publication: 12 October, 2017

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Kurdish authorities said on Thursday that they had offered to hold talks with Baghdad on the status of Kurdish airports, border posts and banks following a raft of punitive measures.
The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) said on Thursday that it has offered to hold talks with Iraqi authorities on the status of Kurdish airports, border posts and banks following a raft of punitive measures imposed by Baghdad.

Iraqi Kurds announced an overwhelming "yes" vote for independence on September 25 following a referendum that has incensed Baghdad.

Iraq's government has taken a series of punitive measures since the vote, including a blockade on international flights to the region and prohibiting the sale of dollars to banks in Kurdistan.

Baghdad also demanded that the KRG hand over control of its border posts.

"To avoid this collective punishment, we invite (Iraqi Prime Minister) Haider al-Abadi, again, ... (to) any form of dialogue and negotiations in conformity with the Iraqi Constitution," the KRG said a statement published overnight, according to Reuters

It offered discussions "regarding the crossings, internal trade, providing services to the citizens, the banks and the airports."

 
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Kurdish authorities had a day earlier accused Iraqi forces and Iranian-backed Shia militias of "preparing a major attack" on the oil-rich region of Kirkuk and near Mosul in northern Iraq.

Kurdish Peshmerga forces blocked roads from Iraqi Kurdistan to Mosul on Thursday in response to Iraqi troop movements, a senior Kurdish military official told AFP.

The accusations were dismissed by Iraq, noting government troops were instead preparing to battle Islamic State militants from a border area with Syria in the west of Iraq.

"We won't use our army against our people or to launch a war against our Kurdish citizens," Abadi said in a statement.

An Iraqi court on Wednesday ordered the arrest of senior Kurdish officials responsible for organising last month's independence referendum.

Iraq is pushing Turkey and Iran – who both opposed the ballot over fears of fuelling demands from their own sizeable Kurdish communities – to close their border posts with Kurdistan and stop all trade with the region.

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