Iraqi and Kurdish military commanders yesterday held talks aimed at resolving an escalating crisis over disputed territorial claims between Baghdad and Iraq’s autonomous region of Kurdistan.
The talks held in the northern city of Mosul were the first such meeting since a bitter row erupted last month between Baghdad and the Kurdish region over an independence vote.
Chief of the Iraqi army staff, Lieutenant-General Othman al-Ghanimi, who led Baghdad’s delegation, said after the meeting that the two sides “agreed on several points.” He did not give details.
“But the Peshmerga (Kurdish) delegation would not give final answers until they have consulted with the presidency of Kurdistan,” al-Ghanimi added.
Kurdish news portal Rudaw, citing an unnamed Iraqi source, reported that Baghdad wants federal troops deployed to Iraq’s international borders and Kurdistan’s Peshmerga security forces to come under federal control.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on Friday ordered a 24-hour halt to a military operation by central government forces in the disputed areas, in order to clear the way for a peaceful deployment of the federal government’s troops in those areas, as well as along Iraq’s borders.
The truce went into effect at midnight on Friday.
Al-Abadi’s move came after government forces and Kurdish fighters clashed in the town of Zumar, near Mosul.
Baghdad and Kurdistan have been at loggerheads over the September 25 independence vote held in Kurdistan and disputed areas including the oil-rich province of Kirkuk.
An overwhelming majority of Kurds, 92%, supported independence in the September 25 referendum, which Baghdad condemned as unconstitutional.
Al-Abadi has demanded that the results of the vote be scrapped.
The disputed areas remained calm yesterday, according to an Iraqi army officer. “There is a cautious calm as both sides are abiding by the ceasefire,” said Major Haider Habib.
He added that central government troops were reaching out to Zumar in the run-up to the planned deployment.
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