Iraqi Kurdish leader Barzani delays independence vote announcement

Iraqi Kurdish leader Barzani delays independence vote announcement

However, negotiations are still going on aimed at persuading Barzani to change his mind, according to officials close to the discussions.

Erdogan, who is attending the United Nations General Assembly in NY, told world leaders on Tuesday that the referendum in northern Iraq could lead to fresh conflicts in the Middle East.

Turkey, Iran and Iraq have agreed to consider countermeasures against the Iraq's Kurdish Regional Government over a planned independence referendum, Turkey's Foreign Ministry said on Thursday.

But on Friday, he had again insisted the vote would take place, despite a UN Security Council warning that it was "potentially destabilising". US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the price would be high "for all Iraqis, including Kurds".

The National Security Council's meeting was followed by a Turkish cabinet meeting that focused on countermeasures ahead of the Iraqi Kurdish vote.

Turkey's government spokesman said Bekir Bozdag said the planned independence referendum represents a direct threat to Turkey's security, and Ankara hopes it will be canceled so it can avoid implementing sanctions.

It said in a statement the Kurdish government should resolve its difficulties with the Iraqi government through "structured dialogue and compromise supported by the worldwide community".

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Iraq's government has called the referendum unconstitutional, with Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi rejecting it, "whether today or in the future".

Turkey has a large ethnic Kurdish population and is battling a Kurdish insurgency on its territory.

The most hotly contested area is Kirkuk, where Baghdad lays claim to the oil-rich province.

The Security Council stressed its respect for the sovereignty, territorial integrity and unity of Iraq.

Turkey has for years been northern Iraq's main link to the outside world. They have been an integral part of the USA -led strategy to counter the Islamic State in the region.

Iraq's chief of staff General Othman al-Ghanimi arrived in Ankara earlier for talks with his Turkish counterpart Hulusi Akar on the poll as well as the fight against terrorism, the state-run Anadolu news agency said.

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