The semi-autonomous Kurdish region of Iraq will carry out a referendum on whether to secede from Baghdad in the near future, after Kurdistan's two major political parties agreed to work together in summit talks on Sunday.
The Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), led by President Masoud Barzani, and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), headed by Jalal Talabani, discussed the independence referendum and their intention to identify a referendum date.
The meeting, held in President Barzani's headquarters, was held in response to a parliamentary decree to remove the Kurdish flag from all state buildings in Kirkuk.
"The meeting discussed the rights of the Kurdish people to determine their political and administrative independence and to establish an independent state," the KDP said in a statement.
The statement adds that the two parties have decided to "work together seriously" on this issue as a matter of national importance.
Barzani met with UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, on Thursday to discuss the possibility of an independence referendum.
A KDP statement on the meeting suggested that Guterres said the UN would act as an intermediary between Erbil and Baghdad.After the meeting, Guterres tweeted: "Just arrived in Iraq to focus on the dire humanitarian situation on the ground. Protection of civilians must be the absolute priority."