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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 15 December 2018

Baghdad delegation to visit Kurdish capital as high-level contacts resume

Direct talks aim to restore normal ties including reopening of Kurdish airports to international flights

Iraqi prime minister Haider Al Abadi wants to resolve the dispute with Iraqi Kurdistan so that the region's airport's can reopen, interior minister Qasim Al Araji told a Kurdish delegation in Baghdad on January 13, 2018. Khalid Mohammed / AP Photo
Iraqi prime minister Haider Al Abadi wants to resolve the dispute with Iraqi Kurdistan so that the region's airport's can reopen, interior minister Qasim Al Araji told a Kurdish delegation in Baghdad on January 13, 2018. Khalid Mohammed / AP Photo

An Iraqi government delegation will travel to the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan region on Monday to discuss ongoing land and border disputes with the autonomous region.

Relations between Baghdad and Erbil declined after the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) held a non-binding independence referendum in September last year despite opposition from the central government. Baghdad responded by halting all international flights to and from Iraqi Kurdistan.

The visit to Erbil on Monday comes after a delegation led by Kurdish interior minister Karim Sinjari travelled to Baghdad on Saturday for the first high-level meeting between the two sides since the crisis began.

There were conflicting reports on Sunday on whether the disputes between the two sides would be resolved.

The Kurdish news agency Rudaw said they had agreed to prepare a blueprint for the reopening of airports in Iraqi Kurdistan to international flights.

On the other hand, Iraqi government spokesman Saad Al Hadithi said there were" no signs to resolve the issues between Baghdad and Erbil at the moment”.

“However, if we try to have success on the duties of joint teams, it might create an appropriate environment to resume talks on a political level,” he said.

During talks in Baghdad on Saturday, Iraqi interior minister Qasim Al Araji told the Kurdish delegation that prime minister Haider Al Abadi wanted to resolve the dispute "in a way that allows institutions such as the airports to resume their activities".

Interior ministry spokesman Saad Maan said Saturday's meetings were "fruitful and filled with an atmosphere of harmony and understanding"

“The Kurdish delegation showed a clear understanding and response in accordance with the Iraqi constitution and the laws," he said.

A statement issued by the Kurdish delegation said the two sides "must discuss solving the problems of the international entry points, customs, airports and dams on the basis of the constitution and federal laws".

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