US ‘strongly opposes’ Iraqi Kurdish independence vote: State Department
WASHINGTON - Reuters
AFP photoThe United States “strongly opposes” the planned independence referendum by Iraqi Kurds and urges Iraqi Kurdish leaders to engage in negotiations with the Baghdad government instead, the U.S. State Department said on Sept 20.
In the most forceful U.S. statement so far opposing the referendum, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said: “The United States strongly opposes the Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government’s referendum on independence, planned for September 25.”
“The United States urges Iraqi Kurdish leaders to accept the alternative, which is a serious and sustained dialogue with the central government, facilitated by the United States and United Nations, and other partners, on all matters of concern, including the future of the Baghdad-Erbil relationship,” Nauert said.
“If this referendum is conducted, it is highly unlikely that there will be negotiations with Baghdad, and the above international offer of support for negotiations will be foreclosed,” she said.
The spokeswoman acknowledged the Kurds have “legitimate grievances,” but argued these would be better addressed in U.S. and UN-mediated talks.
The United States fears the vote will disrupt the campaign against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and destabilize Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s government.