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UN Security Council reaffirms support for Iraq’s integrity after Kurdish vote

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)
File photo shows the United Nations Security Council in session.

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has "reaffirmed" support for Iraq's territorial integrity amid tensions between the central government and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in the wake of a highly controversial independence referendum the semi-autonomous region held last month in open defiance of Baghdad.

French Ambassador to the UN Francois Delattre made the remarks during a press conference at the UN headquarters in New York on Thursday, calling on Baghdad and Kurdish leaders to hold talks.  

“Council members called on all sides to refrain from the threat and use of force and to engage in constructive dialogue facilitated by the United Nations upon request as a pathway to de-escalation and a means to preserve Iraqi unity,” he said.

Delattre further noted that both Baghdad and Erbil had already expressed their “willingness” to sit at the negotiating table to resolve their differences, adding that the council members encouraged both sides to “expeditiously set a timetable to hold these discussions.”

He went on to say that the UNSC had once again affirmed “the importance of remaining focused on efforts to defeat” the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group, which has came to its final days in the Middle Eastern country.

Iraq, along with neighbors Iran and Turkey, opposed the September 25 vote, warning that the referendum would further complicate the security situation in the Arab country that has been grappling with foreign-backed militancy in its north and west for the past three years.

Following the vote, the central government in Baghdad shut down flights in and out of the region and ordered a halt to its independent crude oil sales.

The Kurdish region further slipped into political uncertainty after Iraqi forces captured the disputed city of Kirkuk last week. The city and its surroundings, rich in oil and populated by Kurds, Arabs and Christians, have been at the heart of a long-running row between Erbil and Baghdad.

Opposition parties in Kurdistan endorse the region’s drive for independence from Iraq, but they insist that Masoud Barzani, the KRG’s leader, is responsible for the current political turmoil as he chose the wrong timing to hold the referendum.  

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has already demanded that the KRG annul the vote.

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