Iraqi Kurdish leader Barzani delays independence vote announcement

Former US Diplomat: Efforts to Derail Kurdish Referendum Won't Work

UN Security Council Warns Iraqi Kurds Against Referendum

The president of Iraq's autonomous region of Kurdistan, Massoud Barzani, said Wednesday he had not yet received any offers from the government in Baghdad that could induce him to forgo the referendum on independence.

Iraq's chief of staff General Othman al-Ghanimi arrived in Ankara earlier for talks with his Turkish counterpart Hulusi Akar on the poll as well as the fight against terrorism, the state-run Anadolu news agency said.

The KRG has said the vote is meant to give its autonomous territory a legitimate mandate to achieve independence from Iraq through dialogue with Baghdad and neighboring powers Turkey and Iran.

During a campaign stop in the regional capital of Irbil on Friday, Barzani said it was too late to cancel the vote.

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In return, the referendum would be postponed until the end of the negotiations.

This week, the Turkish military launched previously unannounced military exercises near the border with Iraq in an apparent warning to Iraq's Kurds. Among other things, the referendum could jeopardize Kurdish trade relations in the region.

Turkey reserves its sovereign rights under global accords should the Kurdish referendum go ahead, the statement added, signaling an extension of military presence in Iraq.

Yildirim was speaking before the Turkish parliament holds an extraordinary session on Saturday to discuss the extension of an existing mandate to use Turkish troops in Syria and Iraq against the Islamic State group (IS) and other groups deemed hostile by Ankara.

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Masoud Barzani, the president of the Iraqi Kurdish Regional Government (KRG), announced the vote on June 7.

The non-binding referendum will see Iraqis in KRG-controlled areas - and in a handful of territories disputed between Erbil and Baghdad - vote whether to secede from Iraq.

The Baghdad government, Iraq's neighbours and Western powers fear the vote could break up a country that has seen devastating sectarian and ethnic conflict since a 2003 US -led invasion to topple Saddam Hussein.

The UN Security Council warned Thursday the referendum might destabilize the region still threatened by radical Islamic militancy. "We demand a total cancellation, so that we won't have to impose sanctions", he said.

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In Iraq, where they make up an estimated 15% to 20% of the population of 37 million, Kurds faced decades of repression before acquiring autonomy in 1991. More than 40,000 people have been killed in the conflict.

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