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Kurds Hold Onto Referendum | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Iraqi Kurdish protesters deploy a giant flag of their autonomous Kurdistan region during a pro-independence rally outside the Kurdistan parliament building in Erbil, on July 3, 2014 (AFP Photo/Safin Hamed)

Erbil, Baghdad, Tehran- The Iraqi Kurdistan Region’s High Council for the Independence Referendum rejected on Sunday calls to postpone the independence referendum scheduled for next Monday and instead said that it was sending a delegation to Baghdad in the coming two days to negotiate the issue.

The Council met to discuss suggestions made by the international community to the Kurdistan leadership regarding the postponement of the referendum.

“The recommendations presented until now did not provide any suitable guarantees for the people of Kurdistan, and therefore, the referendum would proceed as scheduled,” the council said during a meeting led by the Kurdistan Region President Masoud Barzani and attended by the Referendum Council members as well as government officials.

Last week, US special envoy to the coalition against ISIS Brett McGurk said that the US has proposed an “alternative path” to the Kurdistan Region’s upcoming independence referendum.

For its part, Iran threatened on Sunday to close all borders with Iraqi Kurdistan and to stop all security agreements signed with the region’s authorities if the Kurdistan region proceeds with its planned referendum on independence from Iraq.

Ali Shamkhani, a secretary-general of the Iranian National Security Council, said that Kurdistan’s separation from Iraq will “draw an end to security and military agreements with that region, and is considered a declaration of the closure of all border routes with Iran.”

The Iranian official also said that the only entity that Iran recognizes in Iraq is the “federal government” in Baghdad.

Meanwhile, Iraqi President Fuad Massoum launched on Sunday a “dialogue initiative” to solve the Kurdistan referendum crisis.

The president canceled on Sunday his trip to New York, where he was expected to attend the UN General Assembly meetings.

A Kurdish source told Asharq Al-Awsat that “President Massoum plans to establish a committee of representatives from political forces in Baghdad tasked with holding a dialogue with the Kurdish delegation that plans to visit Baghdad soon.”