US asks Iraq Kurds to postpone referendum: Kurdistan Presidency

US asks Iraq Kurds to postpone referendum: Kurdistan Presidency

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. (File photo: REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha)

ERBIL, Iraq: The United States has asked Iraq's Kurds to postpone a referendum on the independence of their autonomous Kurdish region, planned for Sep 25, the Kurdish presidency said.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson made the request on Friday (Aug 11), during a phone call with the president of Iraq's Kurdistan Regional Government, Massoud Barzani.

The US State Department said in June it was concerned that the referendum will distract from "more urgent priorities" such as the defeat of Islamic State militants.

"On the issue of the postponement of the referendum, the President (Barzani) stated that the people of the Kurdistan Region would expect guarantees and alternatives for their future," said the statement issued by the Kurdish presidency after Tillerson's call, giving no further details on the Kurdish leader's reaction to the U.S. request.

The United States and other Western nations are concerned that the vote could turn into another regional flashpoint. Turkey, Iran and Syria, which together with Iraq have sizeable Kurdish populations, all oppose an independent Kurdistan.

Source: Reuters

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