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Kurdish delegation heads to Baghdad for dialogue in parallel with independence vote

Kurdish delegation heads to Baghdad for dialogue in parallel with independence vote

Massoud Barzani, president of the Kurdish region since 2005, has resisted calls by the United Nations, the USA and Britain to delay the referendum.

Zebari said delaying the vote for negotiations with Baghdad without also securing guarantees that it could then be held on a binding basis would amount to "political suicide for the Kurdish leadership and the Kurdish dream of independence".

Barzani told the crowd they would look the proposal over, but if their "objective is to just delay the referendum, the referendum will not be postponed".

The Kurdish regions of northern Iraq have been largely free of control from the Iraqi capital, Baghdad since before the 2003 war which toppled the regime headed by Saddam Hussein.

"PUK opposes holding referendum for now, and accepts a United States alternative plan for negotiations", Mr Talabani, the eldest son of former Iraqi president Jalal Talabani, said in the post, calling for "serious discussions" with Baghdad.

After a late-night session by Turkey's National Security Council, Turkey's government called the plans for a vote "illegal and unacceptable".

"I would be so happy if the referendum happens here", Goran Gowhar, a major in the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK)-affiliated branch of the Peshmerga told Meyer from his home in Tuz, a mixed - and similarly contentious - village around fifty-five miles south of Kirkuk.

Damascus hasn't commented on the Syrian Kurdish vote so far.




Khudaverdyan reminded that Turkish authorities had concerns about the spillover effect of the independence of Iraqi Kurds, considering large number of its own Kurdish population. The first electronic ballot for Kurds living abroad was cast overseas in China, according to the Kurdistan High Elections and Referendum Commission, which is administering the vote.

Internally displaced people from the disputed territories will be allowed to vote. "They have distracted people with the referendum".

"The news conference will take place on Sunday and the time and venue will be announced later", Barzani's office said without elaborating.

Kurds are aware that a "Yes" vote wouldn't mean an automatic declaration of independence, but will "strengthen the Kurds' hand" in talks on self-determination with the central government.

Asked if Turkey would consider a cross-border operation in response to referendum, Prime Minister Binali Yildrim said to Reuters: "Naturally, it is a question of timing as to when security, economic and security options are implemented".

In reaction to the Kurdish military assertiveness, Turkey sent its troops a year ago into northern Syria, undermining a contiguous Kurdish-held east-to-west territory.

While Kurds rally across the country for independence, many recognize that violence is likely-and even inevitable - especially in areas like Kirkuk and numerous surrounding smaller villages with a Kurdish presence.

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