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article imageKurds accuse Baghdad of refusing dialogue

By AFP     Nov 27, 2017 in World

Iraqi Kurdish premier Nechirvan Barzani on Monday accused Iraq's central government of refusing to open a dialogue even though the Kurds had bowed its opposition to their September independence vote.

"We think the problems between Baghdad and Arbil should be resolved through serious dialogue and not via the media, but so far Baghdad is not ready for dialogue," he said at a news conference in the Kurdish regional capital, Arbil.

Barzani questioned the federal government's demands for the handover of border posts and airports in the autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq.

"Does this mean the Kurds working at the border posts and airports are not Iraqis, or that Baghdad only wants to employ Arabic speakers?" he asked.

After a September 25 independence referendum held in defiance of Baghdad, federal security forces seized control of disputed zones that had been held by the Kurds.

They also blocked international flights from landing in Iraqi Kurdish airports.

Barzani said the Kurds had respected a supreme court ruling that the independence vote was unconstitutional.

But for its part, Baghdad should reciprocate by annulling the sanctions it has imposed on Iraqi Kurdistan, he said.

Barzani has been running Iraqi Kurdistan since his uncle, Massud Barzani, stepped down in the wake of Baghdad's territorial advances.

The premier also called Monday for an investigation into the mass displacement of Kurds from the mixed town of Tuz Khurmatu in northern Iraq, the scene of deadly violence in mid-October when Iraqi forces seized it from Kurdish control.

"We hold the Iraqi government responsible for what has happened and demand the return and protection of those displaced," the Kurdish leader said.

The United Nations has said 35,000 people were evicted from Tuz Khormatu, mostly Kurds, and expressed concern over reports of homes, companies and political party offices being looted and destroyed.

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