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Barzani delays Kurdish referendum press conference

Barzani delays Kurdish referendum press conference

The Kurdish official said that the reports quoted Pavel Talabani, the son of former President Jalal Talabani, who was expressing his personal opinion.

Iraqi Kurdish leader Massud Barzani on Saturday delayed a scheduled news conference on the referendum as global pressure mounts for a postponement.

He said the Iraqi government's efforts to delay the vote and start negotiations with Kurdish leaders were somewhat halfhearted, unlike successful campaigns by Britain against independence for Scotland and Canada's efforts against independence for Quebec.

The Kurdish regions of northern Iraq have been largely free of control from the Iraqi capital, Baghdad since before the 2003 war which toppled the regime headed by Saddam Hussein. In meetings with USA defense officials last month, Barzani said the referendum wouldn't interfere with ongoing operations against the Islamic state.

"We have tried a lot with all parties to reach a solution to the problems and abide by the constitution, but they did not accept the partnership", he said. Neighbouring Turkey is holding army exercises on the Iraqi border to underline its concerns that the referendum could fuel separatism among its own Kurds.

A statement issued after the meeting said Turkey reserved its rights originating from worldwide conventions.

There has been uncertainty about whether the vote will go ahead on Monday as Iraq's key allies the United States and Iran, as well as powerful neighbor Turkey, have stepped up their opposition.

Speaking to a crowd of thousands in Irbil on Friday, Masoud Barzani said the fight against the Islamic State in partnership with the Iraqi military will continue despite the vote.

The most hotly contested area is Kirkuk, where Baghdad lays claim to the oil-rich province. Erdogan is also due to hold a cabinet meeting later on Friday. The town and the governorate are disputed between Baghdad and the northern Kurdish autonomous region, where a referendum on independence is scheduled to take place next week.

Turkey's parliament will also hold an extraordinary session on Saturday.

The ministers also said they were considering "taking counter-measures" against the Kurdistan Region, but did not provide details.


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