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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 22 June 2018

Kurdistan Regional Government offers to freeze referendum results to begin dialogue

The KRG also called for a ceasefire "in order to prevent further violence and clashes"

Iraqi forces clashed with Kurdish fighters as the central government said it wrestled back control of the last area of disputed Kirkuk province. Marc-Antoine Pelaez / AFP
Iraqi forces clashed with Kurdish fighters as the central government said it wrestled back control of the last area of disputed Kirkuk province. Marc-Antoine Pelaez / AFP

The Kurdistan Regional Government has offered to freeze the results of an earlier referendum on independence as part of an offer to defuse the crisis with the Iraqi central government in Baghdad.

In a statement early on Wednesday, the KRG also proposed an immediate ceasefire and a halt to all military operations in the northern region, “in order to prevent further violence and clashes”.

The government called for an open dialogue between Erbil and Baghdad based on the country’s constitution.

Fighting erupted last week after Iraqi forces captured the city of Kirkuk from Kurdish fighters who had seized the city in 2014.

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It followed a controversial independence vote held by the Iraqi Kurdistan region that included the city of Kirkuk, although it lies outside the Kurdistan region.

Thousands of residents have gone into hiding or fled the city in fear of further clashes, turning Kirkuk into a "ghost city".

The government statement added: "Continued fighting does not lead any side to victory, but it will drive the country towards disarray and chaos."

It continued: "Attacks and confrontations between Iraqi and Peshmerga forces that started on 16 October... could lead to a continuous bloodshed."

Results from the referendum on September 25 showed that 92.73 per cent of voters backed independence from Iraq. The vote has sparked international concern and the central government has repeatedly said the referendum was illegal.