Iraqi PM Meets KRG Leader for First Time Since Independence Vote

Iraqi PM Meets KRG Leader for First Time Since Independence VoteIraqi PM Meets KRG Leader for First Time Since Independence Vote

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi met on Saturday with the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government’s Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani for the first time since conflict broke out over a Kurdish independence referendum, officials said.

The Kurdish referendum on Sept. 25, which produced an overwhelming ‘yes’ for independence, angered Baghdad and Iraq’s neighbors Turkey and Iran and brought a rebuke from the United States and European Union, the Iraqi Kurds’ western supporters, Reuters reported.

At the meeting, Abadi renewed his conditions for lifting restrictions imposed on the Kurdistan region after the referendum, including a direct international air travel ban.

He said the KRG airports and border crossings have to come under the control of the federal authorities, according to a statement from his office.

Abadi also demanded that the Kurds stop exporting crude oil from the KRG independently from the central government.

“Kurdistan delegation headed by @PMBarzani is in Baghdad now, met with @HaiderAlAbadi,” Hemin Hawrami, a senior official of Barzani’s Kurdistan Democratic Party said on Twitter.

“Later today the delegation will fly to Tehran for official meetings with senior Iranian officials Sunday,” added Hawrami, who is also an assistant of ex-KRG president Massoud Barzani.

Iraq’s central government said “an atmosphere of trust” marked talks held on Monday with the KRG to resolve their conflict, which saw armed clashes in October.

Under Abadi’s orders, government forces responded to the referendum by dislodging Kurdish militia from disputed regions including the oil city of Kirkuk.

Abadi also curtailed the KRG’s autonomy, including a ban on direct international travel to the two main Kurdish airports.


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