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US does not recognise Kurdish independence vote in Iraq

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the the President Trumps proposed 2018 budget for the State Department in Washington, USA on 13 June, 2017 [Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency]
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said "I have seen the (administration's peace) plan... It’s been under development for a number of months. I have consulted with them on the plan, identified areas that we feel need further work. I will say it’s fairly well advanced..." Corum/Anadolu Agency, File photo]

The United States does not recognise the independence referendum in Iraqi Kurdistan and urges an end to “threats of reciprocal actions”, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in a statement today.

“The United States does not recognise the Kurdistan Regional Government’s unilateral referendum held on Monday. The vote and the results lack legitimacy and we continue to support a united, federal, democratic and prosperous Iraq,” Tillerson said.

“We urge calm and an end to vocal recriminations and threats of reciprocal actions,” he added.

Around 3.3 million residents of the Iraqi Kurdish region turned to the ballot boxes to vote for separation from Iraq on Monday. News reports said that the turnout rate was 72 per cent.

Final results released on Wednesday showed nearly 93 per cent in favour of independence, and 7.3 per cent against.

The referendum has stirred fears of a new regional conflict, with Baghdad putting pressure on Kurds to cancel their overwhelming vote for independence.

Read: Kurdish independence will see Iraq disintegrate; it’s Israel’s dream scenario

Iran and Turkey also oppose any move towards Kurdish secession and their armies have started joint exercises near their borders with Iraqi Kurdistan in recent days. Iraq and Turkey have also held joint military drills.

Foreign airlines began suspending flights to Kurdish airports after the Iraqi Civil Aviation Authority said on Wednesday that international flights to Erbil and Sulaimaniyah would be suspended.

The United States said yesterday that it would be willing to help facilitate conversations between Iraqi Kurds and Baghdad to try to ease tensions between the two sides after a Kurdish referendum vote.

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