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UN chief cautions against Iraqi Kurdish referendum

Unilateral decision to hold independence vote 'would detract from the need to defeat' Daesh, Guterres says

Anadolu Agency

The United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Sunday warned against a planned referendum for independence in northern Iraq's Kurdish Regional Government (KRG), his spokesman said through a statement.

"The Secretary-General believes that any unilateral decision to hold a referendum at this time would detract from the need to defeat ISIL, as well as the much-needed reconstruction of the regained territories and the facilitation of a safe, voluntary and dignified return of the more than three million refugees and internally displaced people," Stephane Dujarric said in a statement, referring to the Daesh terrorist group.

"The Secretary-General respects the sovereignty, territorial integrity and unity of Iraq and considers that all outstanding issues between the federal Government and the Kurdistan Regional Government should be resolved through structured dialogue and constructive compromise," Dujarric added.

The non-binding referendum is planned to see residents in provinces controlled by the KRG vote on independence from Baghdad on Sept. 25.

The oil-rich province of Kirkuk is among the contested areas where the vote is planned to take place in.

Last week, Iraqi lawmakers voted against the Kurdish independence referendum and called on the Baghdad government to negotiate with the semi-autonomous Kurdish government.

The Iraqi government is opposed to the poll, claiming it will affect the war against Daesh, cause instability and violate the Iraqi constitution. Turkey and the U.S. are also opposed to the vote.

The Secretary-General respects the sovereignty, territorial integrity and unity of Iraq and considers that all outstanding issues between the federal Government and the Kurdistan Regional Government should be resolved through structured dialogue and constructive compromise.
The Secretary-General calls upon the leaders across Iraq to approach this matter with patience and restraint. The United Nations stands ready to support such efforts.

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