World Bulletin / News Desk
Arab League chief Ahmed Abul-Gheit on Sunday met with Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) President Masoud Barzani in Erbil, where he urged the Iraqi Kurdish leader to postpone a planned referendum on Kurdish regional independence.
According to a subsequent statement issued by Barzani's office, Abul-Gheit had said longstanding disputes between Baghdad and Erbil (the KRG’s administrative capital) should be resolved through dialogue, and urged Barzani to delay the poll.
The meeting in Erbil came one day after Abul-Gheit met with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi in Baghdad, with whom he also discussed the upcoming referendum.
On Sunday evening, however, Barzani’s office issued a second statement in which the KRG president ruled out the possibility that the poll would be cancelled or deferred to a later date.
Slated for Sept. 25, the non-binding referendum will see residents of northern Iraq’s Kurdish region vote on whether or not to declare independence from Baghdad.
The Iraqi government, for its part, rejects the planned poll, saying it will adversely affect the ongoing fight against the Daesh terrorist group, which still maintains a significant presence in Iraq.
Baghdad also believes that holding the poll would violate the Iraqi constitution.
Turkey, too, rejects the planned referendum, saying the region’s stability depends on the unity of Iraq and the maintenance of its territorial integrity.
Washington has likewise voiced concern that the poll could serve as a “distraction” from other pressing regional issues, especially the fight against terrorism and the stabilization of post-Daesh Iraq.
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