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United Kingdom 'does not support' referendum in northern Iraq
17 September 2017, 01:01 | Percy Christensen
US Special Envoy: Kurdish Referendum Could Undermine Fight Against IS
Earlier on Friday, the Iraqi Kurdish parliament approved a plan to hold a referendum on independence on September 25.
"The United States has repeatedly emphasized to the leaders of the Kurdistan Regional Government that the referendum is distracting from efforts to defeat ISIS and stabilize the liberated areas".
The parliament session was the first held since the legislature was suspended almost two years ago, though only 68 of 111 lawmakers attended due to a boycott by the main opposition movement Gorran.
The Kurdish Regional Government is embroiled in long-standing disputes with the federal government over oil exports, budget payments and control of ethnically divided areas.
But Kurdish region President Masud Barzani has said the vote is necessary because "all other bids" to secure full Kurdish rights "have failed". Late last month, Kirkuk's provincial council voted to take part in the referendum.
Gorran, the main opposition movement to Barzani's Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), boycotted the parliament session in Erbil.
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The non-binding referendum will see residents in provinces controlled by the KRG vote on independence from Iraq.
"To date, we have not received an alternative that can replace the referendum, the alternative that we wanted was not offered", he said.
Ankara, which has warned the referendum would come at a "cost", has close economic and political relations with the KRG and Barzani.
"We will announce our plan regarding the KRG referendum after the National Security Council meeting on September 22", Erdoğan said, adding that KRG leader Masoud Barzani's was "very, very wrong".
The referendum has been opposed by Baghdad because it would threaten the integrity of Iraq and would distract the ongoing fight against Islamic State militant group by Iraqi forces.
Germany also renewed its opposition to the unilateral independence referendum. Supporters of the referendum argue Kurds deserve their own state after fighting IS and facing years of oppression at the hands of governments in Baghdad, including gassing and ethnic cleansing under former dictator Saddam Hussein.
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