By Arif Yusuf
A Kurdish delegation is set to arrive in Baghdad on Saturday to discuss a planned referendum on the secession of northern Iraq’s Kurdish region, according to a local source.
The delegation, formed by the commission organizing the referendum, will hold talks with Iraqi government officials and party leaders to discuss contentious issues, the source said on condition of anonymity due to restrictions on speaking to media.
The delegation, the source said, will not discuss a postponement of the Sept. 25 referendum but the subsequent steps of the vote.
There was no comment from Baghdad or the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) on the source’s comments.
The non-binding referendum will see Iraqis in KRG-controlled areas -- and in a handful of territories disputed between Erbil and Baghdad -- vote 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.
Iraq’s central government has threatened to intervene militarily if the vote leads to violence.
KRG’s leader, Masoud Barzani, has said a “Yes” vote would not result in an automatic declaration of independence but would simply lead to further negotiations with Baghdad.