U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has asked Massoud Barzani, head of northern Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdish region, to postpone a planned referendum on the region’s secession from Iraq.
According to a Friday statement issued by Barzani’s office, Tillerson asked the Kurdish leader by phone to postpone the referendum — currently slated for October — and called for dialog between the Kurdish region and Baghdad.
Tillerson also praised a decision by the Kurdish region’s political leadership to send a delegation to Baghdad to hold talks with Iraqi officials to discuss the upcoming poll.
Barzani, for his part, told Tillerson that the planned referendum was aimed at realizing the Kurdish region’s longstanding desire for regional coexistence.
The poll, in which residents of the Kurdish region will vote on whether or not to formally secede from the Iraqi state, is slated to be held on Sept. 25.
Baghdad, however, rejects the planned referendum, saying the move could adversely affect the region’s ongoing fight against the Daesh terrorist group.
The Iraqi government also claims that the poll would violate Iraq’s 2005 constitution and would be “of no political or economic benefit to the region’s Kurds”.