Masoud Barzani refused on Thursday a request by French President Emmanuel Macron to postpone the referendum on the Kurdistan independence that is set to be held on Sept. 25, NRT reported.
The Kurdistan Region Presidency (KRP) issued a statement on Thursday, saying Barzani has received a telephone call by Macron. Macron reportedly referred to the Kurdish referendum as “ill-timed.”
“[Barzani] announced that the date to hold the referendum is still standing and said that the door is open for dialogue,” the KRP said citing Masoud Barzani.
Macron expressed his country’s support for Iraq’s unity and rights of the Kurdish people within scope of the Iraqi constitution, the KRP’s statement read.
Macron praised the role of the Kurdistan Region in the battle against Islamic State (ISIS) militants, who are still holding territory in Iraq. He also admired efforts by the region to host IDPs and refugees.
Turkey, the United States and other Western powers have advised Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdish region to cancel the vote, worrying that tensions between Baghdad and Erbil would distract from the war on Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
Kurds are set to hold the referendum on September 25 but Baghdad opposes it, with lawmakers voting to reject it. Iraq's neighbors, Turkey, Iran and Syria, also oppose the referendum, fearing it could fan separatism among their own ethnic Kurdish populations.