Iraqi Kurd leader Barzani: Majority of Kurdistan voted ‘yes’ for independence

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Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani Tuesday urged Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to begin talks on the issues dividing them a day after the Kurdish autonomous community held a referendum in which he said a majority voted in favor of independence.

“I call on Mr Haider al-Abadi and the others (Iraqi political officials) not to close the door to dialogue because it is dialogue that will solve problems,” he said in a televised address.

“We assure the international community of our willingness to engage in dialogue with Baghdad,” he said.

“The referendum is not to delimit the border (between Kurdistan and Iraq), nor to impose it de facto,” Barzani added.

The Kurdish move to stage a referendum on independence went ahead despite both Iraqi and international opposition.

Iraq’s neighbors Turkey and Iran both have minority Kurdish communities of their own.

The vote is non-binding and will not lead automatically to independence, but is seen by the Kurds as a major step towards a long-cherished dream of statehood.

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