World Bulletin / News Desk
Speaking at a joint news conference in Paris with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, Macron reiterated France’s commitment to protecting Iraq’s stability and territorial integrity.
"We want Iraq to engage in national reconciliation in the country... and demand calm to deal with the referendum of Iraqi Kurdistan," Macron said.
The French leader said his country "has close relations with the Kurdish people, and understands their situation," and their rights "must be recognized within the framework of the [Iraqi] Constitution."
Macron said dialogue "is the only path," adding that "France is ready to contribute actively to mediation."
For his part, Abadi also reiterated that the Sept. 25 referendum held by northern Iraq’s regional administration is illegal, saying he wants "to preserve the country’s sovereignty within the Constitution."
The Iraqi premier insisted he does not want a confrontation with Kurdish Peshmerga troops and instead called on them to work alongside Iraqi forces in disputed areas under the leadership of the federal authority.
On Sept. 25, Iraqis in Kurdish Regional Government (KRG)-held areas -- and in several areas disputed between Baghdad and Erbil -- voted on whether to declare independence from Iraq.
According to results announced by the KRG, almost 93 percent of registered voters cast ballots in favor of independence.
The illegitimate referendum was heavily criticized by most regional and international actors, many warning that it would distract from Iraq’s ongoing fight against terrorism and further destabilize the already-volatile region.