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UK says Kurdish independence vote not in Iraq's interest

June 13, 2017 at 9:06 am

Former British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson [Andreas Gebert / Anadolu Agency]

The UK supports a stable, democratic and unified Iraq and now is not the time for a referendum on the independence of the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG),  British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has said Monday.

Johnson said the UK government had noted the call for an independence referendum by the KRG and understood the “aspirations of the Kurdish people.”

“But a referendum at this time will distract from the more urgent priorities of defeating Daesh, stabilising liberated areas and addressing the long-term political issues that led to Daesh’s rise,” he said in a statement.

Underlining that “any referendum or political process towards independence must be agreed with the Government of Iraq in Baghdad,” Johnson said unilateral moves towards independence would not be in the interest of the region’s people, Iraq or of wider stability.

“We urge all parties to engage in dialogue to deliver a better future for their people on the basis of the Iraqi Constitution.”

The UK foreign office statement echoed previous calls for Iraq’s territorial integrity by Turkey, Germany, Russia.

KRG President Masoud Barzani said last week that a vote on independence from Iraq would be held on 25 September, a move the Turkish Foreign Ministry called a “grave mistake” on Friday.

“Protection of the territorial integrity and political unity of Iraq is one of the basic principles of Turkey’s Iraq policy,” said the ministry.

“Our opinion is loud and clear. We want the integrity of Iraq soil. We want all Iraqis to live together, under one government,” added Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim in a statement.

“We have enough issues to deal with, and we believe creating a new one is wrong and an irresponsible decision,” he added.