Kurdish authorities in Iraq offered on Wednesday to put an independence drive on hold, stepping up efforts to resolve a crisis in relations with Baghdad via dialogue rather than military means.
But a Iraqi military spokesman suggested an offensive -- launched to wrest back territory after Kurds voted overwhelmingly for independence in a disputed referendum in September -- would continue regardless.
The Iraqi government has transformed the balance of power in the north of the country since launching its campaign last week against the Kurds, who govern an autonomous region of three northern provinces.
|Kurdish authorities in Iraq offered on Wednesday to put an independence drive on hold, stepping up efforts to resolve a crisis in relations with Baghdad via dialogue rather than military means.
“The fighting between the two sides will not produce a victory for any, it will take the country to total destruction,” said the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in a statement.
The KRG proposed an immediate ceasefire, a suspension of the referendum result, and “starting an open dialogue with the federal government based on the Iraqi Constitution”.
Baghdad declared the referendum illegal and responded by seizing back the city of Kirkuk, the oil-producing areas around it and other territory that the Kurds had captured from militant group Islamic State.
In a brief social media comment hinting that the campaign would continue, an Iraqi military spokesman said: “Military operations are not connected to politics.”
Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has said the KRG should cancel the vote’s outcome as a pre-condition for talks.
He had yet to react to the Kurdish proposal on Wednesday, when he began an official visit to neighboring Turkey and Iran during which relations with the Kurds -- whose communities are established in parts of all three countries as well as Syria -- will be high on the agenda.
Iran announced the reopening of one of the border crossings with the Kurdistan region of Iraq, closed last week in support of the Iraqi government.Reuters