Iraqi PM Calls for Urgent Talks with Kurdish Leadership

Iraqi PM Calls for Urgent Talks with Kurdish Leadership

 Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi called for urgent talks with Kurdish leadership, hours after parliament voted against the regional plebiscite.

At a news conference on Tuesday (September 12), Abadi described the Kurdistan region's planned referendum on independence as "unconstitutional".

He further said Kurdish authorities were continuing to “illegally export” Kirkuk’s oil.

"I call upon the Kurdish leadership to come to Baghdad and conclude a dialogue. Dialogue is the only option," Abadi said.

Earlier, Iraqi Parliament voted to reject Kurdistan’s independence referendum set for September 25. Parliament also authorized Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to “take all measures” to preserve Iraq’s unity.

Kurdish lawmakers walked out of the session before the vote and issued statements rejecting the decision.

Western powers fear a plebiscite in the Kurdistan Region - including the oil-rich city of Kirkuk - could ignite conflict with the central government in Baghdad and divert attention from the war against Islamic State militants.

The Kurdistan Region declared on June 7 a plan to hold a referendum on the region’s independence this year on September 25. The announcement came following a meeting between the region’s political parties, not including the Gorran and Kurdistan Islamic Group (KIG).