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France ready for mediation between Baghdad and Iraqi Kurds: Macron

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
French President Emmanuel Macron (R) shakes hands with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi at the Elysee palace in Paris, on October 5, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

French President Emmanuel Macron says Paris is ready for mediation between Iraq and its Kurdish region seeking secession from the mainland, emphasizing the need to protect the Arab country’s “territorial integrity.”

In a joint presser with visiting Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, Marcon said dialog was the only solution to the dispute between Baghdad and Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), which recently held a controversial secession plebiscite in defiance of international warnings.

“France is ready to contribute actively to mediation,” said the French leader, highlighting the importance of “national reconciliation and inclusive governance” that includes Kurds, “with whom France maintains close ties.”

French president Emmanuel Macron (R) shakes hands with Iraqi Prime minister Haider al-Abadi prior to their meeting at the Elysee palace in Paris, on October 5, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

Much of the international community has been vocally critical of the September 25 Kurdish referendum, in which over 90 percent of the voters in the semi-autonomous region said ‘Yes’ to separation from Iraq, according to local officials.

In response to the vote, the Iraqi government has cut Kurdistan’s direct air links with the outside world, partially isolating the northern region. It also asked the KRG to either cancel the result of the plebiscite or face potential sanctions, international isolation, and military intervention.

France had earlier criticized the vote as untimely, saying this could fuel tensions in the Middle East at a time Iraq is focused on the fight against Takfiri Daesh terrorists.

During the press conference, the Iraqi premier said his government is not after confrontation with Iraqi Kurds, but reiterated Baghdad’s position that the Kurdish referendum is illegal, and that problems should be solved within the framework of Iraq’s constitution.

“We do not want an armed confrontation, we don’t want clashes, but the federal authority must prevail and nobody can infringe on the federal authority,” Abadi said.

He further called on Kurdish Peshmerga forces “to remain an integral part of the Iraqi forces under the authority of the federal authorities, to guarantee the security of citizens so that we can rebuild these zones,” he said, referring to the areas liberated from Daesh terrorists.

Prior to the news conference, the two senior officials sat down for talks on other issues of bilateral and regional significance, including economic relations and the fight against Daesh terrorists.

Accompanied by a large economic delegation, Abadi flew to Paris on Wednesday for a two-day visit in response to an invitation from the French head of state.

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