TEHRAN (Press Shia Agency) – Referendum can be postponed only with guarantees on independence, President of the Iraqi Kurdistan semi-autonomous region Masoud Barzani said.
He made the remarks in a meeting with British Secretary of State for Defense Michael Fallon on Monday.
According to an English-language statement from Barzani office, he told a visiting British minister that the Iraqi Kurdistan Region will not postpone the referendum without commitment from Baghdad to begin independence negotiations, with international guarantees that agreements will be enforced.
Responding to Fallon’s request for postponement of September 25 referendum, Barzani said that referendum and dialogue are both tools for independence and that, since no alternative had been presented that could guarantee independence talks and Baghdad’s readiness to commence such talks, the referendum cannot be delayed.
“The referendum will not be delayed only for the sake of holding talks with Baghdad without knowing the content of these talks or knowing what international guarantees they will have,” the Barzani office statement read.
He added, however, that if Baghdad “expresses its readiness to hold talks on Kurdistan’s independence for a specific period of time and if there are international guarantees for the enforcement of an agreement on Kurdistan’s independence” then Kurdistan’s political leadership would meet and make a final decision.
After the referendum, the Kurdistan region will “happily negotiate with Baghdad” he said.
In the meantime, the British secretary of state for defense called on Barzani to focus on dialogue with the Iraqi central government “under the supervision of the international community,” a Kurdish-language statement from the Barzani office said.
Fallon was in Baghdad on Monday prior to his visit to Erbil. He said in a press conference after meeting the Iraqi officials that the Kurdistan referendum is a ‘mistake’.
The Britain is “committed to the integrity of Iraq,” he said.