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Baghdad maintains pressure as Kurds rethink their independence referendum

Baghdad maintains pressure as Kurds rethink their independence referendum

"With the referendum they tried to break up our territory, they tried to redefine our borders", Al-Abadi said.

"Iraqis' joy is our joy, their sorrow is our sorrow".

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, speaking Tuesday while on a trip to Iraq, said he is "concerned and a bit saddened by the recent differences" experienced between the Iraqi government and the minority Kurds.

Fish-Khabur is strategically vital because oil from both Kurdish and government-held parts of northern Iraq crosses via a pipeline there into Turkey, the main route out of the area for the exports that are crucial to any Kurdish independence bid.

But it caused Kurds to flee en masse from Tuz Khurmato, a multi-ethnic city south of Kirkuk where sectarian tension flared after Iraqi forces took control, humanitarian organisations said.

Iraq's Abadi, for his part, said: "We are here with a ministerial delegation in order to enhance relations in all fields, including the economy, trade, oil, energy, water, and also cultural cooperation, in addition to political and security cooperation".

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Iraq's self-ruled Kurdish region on Wednesday offered to freeze the results of its controversial independence vote last month as part of a dialogue with Baghdad.

Relations between Baghdad and Ankara were strained previous year over Turkey's presence at the Bashiqa military base in northern Iraq, where around 500 troops were training local fighters ahead of the successful operation to free Mosul from the Islamic State group.

The two leaders also reiterated their support for Iraq's territorial integrity.

Analysts believe that the decision to hold the referendum in the face of near-universal condemnation was a colossal miscalculation, saying Barzani has undermined his legitimacy.

Iraqi forces are preparing in parallel an offensive to recapture the last patch of Iraqi territory still in the hands of Islamic State, on the border with Syria, the military said on Wednesday.

In its statement, the KRG called for an open dialogue between Irbil and Baghdad based on the country's constitution.


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