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17 September, 2017 00:00 00 AM
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UN urges Iraqi Kurds to hold talks, drop referendum

AFP

The United Nations has urged Iraqi Kurdish leader Massud Barzani to drop plans for an independence referendum and enter talks with Baghdad aimed at reaching a deal within three years, reports AFP from Baghdad yesterday. Jan Kubis, the top UN envoy in Iraq, offered international backing for immediate negotiations between the country's federal government and the autonomous Kurdish region. In a document seen by AFP, he proposed "structured, sustained, intensive and result-oriented partnership negotiations... on how to resolve all the problems and outstanding issues" between Baghdad and Arbil.

The Kurdish Regional Government is embroiled in long-standing disputes with the federal government over oil exports, budget payments and control of ethnically divided areas.

Iraqi Kurdish lawmakers on Friday approved holding the referendum in the face of fierce opposition both from Baghdad and the Kurds' international backers.

Kubis called for talks, overseen by the UN Security Council, that would aim to reach a deal defining "principles and arrangements" for future relations between Baghdad and the KRG.

In return, Barzani's administration would agree to postpone the referendum at least until the end of negotiations. "Here is this offer, if they accept this alternative, there will be negotiations," Kubis told AFP. He said he hoped to hear from Barzani "in the next two or three days". "I hope they will consider the options and I am waiting for their answer," he said.

Meanwhile, Iraqi forces yesterday captured a desert outpost of the Islamic State group near the Syrian border in preparation for a drive up the Euphrates Valley towards the frontier,

commanders said. The capture of Akashat, a former mining town in mainly Sunni Arab Anbar province, some 100 kilometres (60 miles) south of the jihadists’ border bastion of Al-Qaim, came just hours after the forces assaulted it.

Al-Qaim and the Euphrates towns of Rawa and Anna downstream form just one of two enclaves still held by IS in Iraq after a string of battlefield defeats this year.

“The army, the Hashed al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilisation force), tribal units and the police captured Akashat,” the Joint Operations Command leading the fight against IS said in a statement.

Earlier, JOC head General Abdelamir Yarallah said the operation “to liberate Akashat” was aimed at securing the border to its north. The Hashed al-Shaabi are a paramilitary force largely composed of Iran-trained Shiite militias but also including some fighters recruited from Sunni tribes.

Iraqi commanders estimate there are no more than 300 civilian families left in Akashat, a former railhead that was once a major source of phosphate production.

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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