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Iraqi govt. forces, Kurdish Peshmerga fighters begin fresh talks

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)
Iraqi forces gather at their camp on the front line in the northwestern town of Fishkhabur, near the borders with Syria and Turkey, on October 28, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

Iraqi government forces and Kurdish Peshmerga fighters have launched a second round of negotiations in a bid to resolve a conflict about the control of border crossings in the country’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan region two days after the two sides reached an agreement to stop fighting.

“The second round of talks about deploying federal troops in the disputed areas has started,” the state-run al-Iraqiya television network reported on Sunday. The report did not provide any further details.

Iraqi forces and Kurdish Peshmerga fighters held the first round of talks on Friday and Saturday.

On Friday, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi ordered a 24-hour suspension to military operations against Kurdish forces.

Abadi said the talks are meant to pave the way for the peaceful deployment of Iraqi troops at the border crossings of Kurdistan region.

Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga fighters load an artillery at the Altun Kubri checkpoint, located 40 kilometers from Kirkuk, on October 20, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

Tensions are simmering between Iraq's Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the Baghdad government in the wake of last month’s Kurdish independence referendum and a dire "threat of civil war" there.

The referendum on secession of the Kurdistan region was held on September 25 despite strong opposition from Iraqi authorities, the international community, and Iraq's neighboring countries, especially Turkey and Iran.

Following the vote, Baghdad imposed a ban on direct international flights to the Kurdish region and called for a halt to its independent crude oil sales.

On October 12, an Iraqi government spokesman said Baghdad had set a series of conditions that the KRG needed to meet before any talks on the resolution of the referendum crisis could start.

“The KRG must first commit to Iraq's unity. The local authorities in the [Kurdistan] region… must accept the sovereign authority of the federal government on… oil exports, [as well as] security and border protection, including land and air entry points,” the unnamed Iraqi official added.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has already demanded the annulment of the referendum.

“We won't accept anything but its cancellation and the respect of the constitution,” he said in a statement on Thursday during a visit to Tehran.

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