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Western powers press Iraq Kurd leaders to shelve 'very risky' independence vote

Western powers press Iraq Kurd leaders to shelve 'very risky' independence vote

Iraq's parliament voted on Thursday to sack the governor of oil-rich Kirkuk over his decision for the northern province to vote in a Kurdish independence referendum opposed by Baghdad.

The referendum is scheduled for September 25 and millions of Kurds are urged to vote for or against the independence of the Kurdistan Autonomous Region of Iraq.

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi asked the Iraqi parliament on Thursday to hold a vote on removing the governor of Kirkuk from office, the parliamentary speaker's office said.

The referendum for the independence of the Kurdish region in Iraq is a "historic mistake", Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag has stated, warning that there will be a price and repercussions if this is going to happen.

Safeen Dizayee, a spokesman for the Kurdish regional government in Iraq, did not respond directly to Netanyahu's comments, but appeared to welcome them.

The neighboring countries of Turkey, Iran and Syria also feel that the move would threaten their territorial integrity, as large numbers of Kurdish population live in those countries.




Baghdad has repeatedly criticized the move and the Iraqi Parliament has already voted against the referendum.

The Kurdish presidency said the autonomous region's political leaders would study the proposal, without giving details.

Jaafari said the worldwide community must offer financial and other support to Iraq for the rebuilding of Mosul and other cities retaken from Islamic State.

Netanyahu said in a statement that Israel still considers the Turkey-based Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) a terrorist group but "supports the legitimate efforts of the Kurdish people to achieve their own state".

Kurds have sought an independent state since at least the end of World War One, when colonial powers divided up the Middle East after the collapse of the multi-ethnic Ottoman Empire.

Iraqi neighbors - Turkey, Iran and Syria - oppose the referendum, fearing that it could fuel separatist moods among their own Kurdish minorities.

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