Turkey to announce plan on KRG referendum, Erdoğan says

US Special Envoy: Kurdish Referendum Could Undermine Fight Against IS

Western officials have once again pressed on Kurdish leaders to cancel the 25 September independence referendum by threatening not to grant worldwide legitimacy to the elections.

The Gorran (Change) party and the Islamic Group, which have called for postponing the referendum to an unspecified date, boycotted the session, the parliament's first since October 2015.

The parliament of Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan region approved a plan on Friday to hold a referendum on independence on September 25, ignoring opposition from Baghdad and the wider region as well as Western concerns that the vote could spark fresh conflict.

Turkey warned Iraqi Kurdish leaders this week that there would be "a price to pay" for going ahead with the vote.

The central government in Baghdad opposes the plan, as do Iraq's neighbours Iran and Turkey, which fear that an independent Kurdish state could fuel separatism among their own Kurdish populations.

Iran, Turkey and the United States also object to the vote, fearing further instability.

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The Iraqi government believes that holding the referendum would violate the terms of the country's constitution.

The regional parliament's decision came despite an intense diplomatic drive by the United States, which has provided critical military aid to the KRG's fight against Islamic State, to persuade the Kurdish leadership to cancel the referendum.

"That is why the United Kingdom has proposed new talks between the Kurdistan Regional Government and Government of Iraq on the future of the relationship between Erbil and Baghdad", said the Saturday statement, adding that such talks should be time limited and address all the issues of dispute between the two parties without preconditions. But relations with Baghdad have grown strained in recent years over oil and the disputed areas. Mr Barzani says the referendum's "legitimacy comes from the people of Kurdistan, not from the outside".

Controversially, the vote will also be held in so-called disputed areas outside the Kurdistan Regional Government's (KRG) official boundaries.

The governor of Kirkuk was sacked by the federal parliament earlier this week over his support for a referendum.

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