By Ali Sheikho
Northern Iraq’s Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) has welcomed the notion of holding talks with Baghdad with a view to resolving the crisis caused by last month’s illegitimate referendum on regional independence, according to a KRG statement issued Thursday.
The KRG is “ready for dialogue with the central government,” read the statement from the KRG Prime Ministry released after the Cabinet meeting earlier in the day, going on to urge the international community to “help promote dialogue between the two sides” for progress in the talks.
It added: “History has shown that the will of the people of Kurdistan will not be defeated by weapons and military actions; that Iraq’s problems will not be resolved in this way.”
The statement, however, did not indicate whether the KRG was ready to cancel the results of last month’s controversial referendum -- which Baghdad has set as a condition for entering talks.
On Sept. 25, Iraqis in KRG-controlled-held areas -- and in several disputed parts of the country -- voted on whether or not to declare independence from the Iraqi state.
According to poll results announced by the KRG, almost 93 percent of those who cast ballots voted in favor of independence.
The illegitimate referendum had faced sharp opposition from most regional and international actors (including the U.S., Turkey and Iran), who had warned that the poll would distract from Iraq’s fight against terrorism and further destabilize the region.
In response to last month’s referendum, the Iraqi armed forces this week were deployed in Kirkuk and other disputed areas following the withdrawal of Kurdish Peshmerga forces.