World Bulletin / News Desk
Northern Iraq’s Kurdish region will “certainly” vote on independence, the region’s leader pledged during a visit to Washington D.C. on Wednesday.
Referring to the ongoing conflict with ISIL Kurdistan Regional Government President Masoud Barzani said: “Right now our country is in a fight against ISIL, the fight is not over but that’s why the issue of referendum has been delayed. Of course the referendum will take place.”
A vote to break away from Baghdad is strongly opposed by the central government, which challenges the region’s authority to hold a referendum. Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq is rich in oil and gas deposits that Baghdad is keen to control.
However, Barzani maintained there was little doubt that there would eventually be an independent Kurdish state.
“I cannot predict whether it will be next year or when but certainly the independent Kurdistan is coming,” he said.
Barzani, who has led the regional government since 2005, also promised that Kurdish peshmerga fighters who have been instrumental in combating ISIL and reversing some of the extremists’ successes, would not abandon the conflıct.
“So long as the terrorists of ISIL are in Mosul, they will be a direct threat to the Kurdistan region,” Barzani said. “We will do whatever we can in order to help liberate Mosul.”
“We hope that a peaceful solution would be found for the Kurdish question in Turkey,” he added.
In a statement on Barzani’s meeting with Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken, the State Department said Blinken had emphasized the U.S.’s “strong and continued support to a united, federal and democratic Iraq.”
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