By Ahmet Gurhan Kartal
The U.K. “does not support the referendum” held by the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) in northern Iraq and “continues to back the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Iraq,” Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said Monday.
“We believe that any referendum should be agreed with the government of Iraq,” Johnson said in a statement released by the Foreign Office.
Monday's controversial referendum in northern Iraq went ahead Monday despite calls for suspension from the international community.
Johnson said they have proposed with international allies, an alternative plan for negotiations between the central Baghdad government and the KRG to address all issues of dispute.
“This alternative would have given the opportunity for the aspirations of the Kurdish people to be met. It is regrettable that a part of the Kurdish leadership rejected the proposal,” he said.
“The long-term security and prosperity of Iraq and Iraqis can only be met through dialogue and cooperation,” the British secretary said, urging “all sides to refrain from provocative statements and actions in the aftermath of the referendum.
“The priority must remain the defeat of Daesh and returning stability to liberated areas.”
On Monday, Iraqis in areas held by the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) -- and in a handful of territories disputed between Erbil and Baghdad – voted to decide whether to secede from Iraq.
Along with Baghdad, Turkey, the U.S., Iran and the UN have all spoken out against the poll, saying it will only distract from the ongoing fight against Daesh and further destabilize the region.