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PM: Iraq doesn’t want armed clash with Kurds

Prime Minister of Iraq Haider al-Abadi delivers a speech on 8 March 2017 in Iraq [Feriq Fereç - Anadolu Agency]
Prime Minister of Iraq Haider al-Abadi delivers a speech on 8 March 2017 in Iraq [Feriq Fereç/Anadolu Agency]

Iraq does not want an armed clash with the Kurdish authorities, Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi announced yesterday.

“We do not want an armed confrontation, we don’t want clashes,” Al-Abadi said at a press conference that was held yesterday in Paris with the French President Emmanuel Macron.

“But the federal authority must prevail and nobody can infringe on the federal authority,” Al-Abadi warned.

He urged the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in the disputed areas to work with the Iraqi security forces under the control of the central government Baghdad.

“I call on the Peshmerga to remain an integral part of the Iraqi forces under the authority of the federal authorities, to guarantee the security of citizens so that we can rebuild these zones,” the Iraqi premier said, referring to areas taken back from Daesh.

On his part, Macron offered to mediate in the crises that have caused a dispute between the Baghdad and the Kurdish Regional Government.

“France is ready, if Iraqi authorities wish to actively contribute to the mediation launched by the United Nations,” he reiterated.

Read: Kurds refuse to hand over airports to Iraq government

“It is vital in the coming weeks and months that a dialogue begins that respects the unity, integrity and sovereignty of Iraq within the framework of the constitution and recognising Kurdish rights,” Macron stressed.

The French president also promised that French forces would maintain their military presence in Iraq until Daesh is “totally” defeated.

Last month, the Kurdish-held northern region voted for independence in a referendum which was declared illegal by Baghdad.

In response to the vote, the Iraqi government has imposed sanctions, including halting international flights to Erbil and Sulaymaniyah airports, imposing sanctions on Kurdish banks and banning foreign currency transfers to the Kurdish region.

“We respect the aspirations of all citizens, including the Kurds, I respect those aspirations,” the Iraqi leader noted, adding that “we must work together.”

The outcome of the referendum has raised concerns in Iraq and abroad that a conflict might break out there along ethnic lines, potentially weakening a US-backed campaign against Daesh which still holds pockets of territory in Iraq and Syria.

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