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Macron urges Iraqis to conduct political dialogue in letter to Barzani

Macron urges Iraqis to conduct political dialogue in letter to Barzani
French President Emmanuel Macron has urged both Erbil and Baghdad to build on the success of their security meetings and begin political dialogue with the aim of achieving “lasting peace” in Iraq, Rudaw reported on Thursday.
 
Kurdish and Iraqi security officials have held a series of meetings to find a negotiated settlement with regard to the deployment of Iraqi forces to the disputed areas claimed by both Erbil and Baghdad, a move welcomed by Macron in a letter delivered to Kurdistan Region Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani on Thursday.
 
Macron said that talks have to go further and result in “political dialogue” between the two sides, according to a statement from the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).
 
Macron referred to a phone call he had with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on October 28 in which he informed the Iraqi leader that “resuming dialogue supported by the United Nations is the only solution to reach a lasting peace for all Iraqis in Iraq.”
 
He urged Abadi to respect the constitutional rights of the Kurds and welcomed the security meetings that are working towards “joint redeployment in the disputed areas,” according a statement from his office at the time.
  
Barzani thanked France and Macron for their historic and current support, according to the KRG’s statement, and he stressed that his government is ready to talk with Baghdad on the basis of the Iraqi constitution. He said such talks would need the support of the international community such as the United Nations.
 
Abadi said on Tuesday that the security meetings had a promising start, until the Kurds said they wanted the talks to broaden to a wider political dialogue.
 
France is one of the nations that helped install a No-Fly Zone over Kurdish territory in northern Iraq following the First Gulf War in 1991 that gave the Kurds the space to establish their own government.
 
In his letter, Macron praised the “historic” leadership of former President Masoud Barzani and his role in the formation of the new Iraq following the US-led invasion in 2003 and in the war against ISIS as part of the international Coalition.
 
The French president said that the Peshmerga contribution to the war on ISIS has further “strengthened” the close friendship between France and the Kurdistan Region.
 
“Our country has always tried to have the rights of the Kurdish people recognized within the framework of the Iraqi constitution,” Macron said, according to the KRG statement. 
 
He said that France hopes to work with the KRG to “strengthen our relations and guarantee the stability of the Kurdistan Region” as its stability is an important factor for the stability of Iraq and the wider region.
 
Elysee has not immediately released its own statement on the letter to Barzani.
 
The KRG has offered to freeze the outcome of the independence vote in order to bring Baghdad to the table after the central government imposed a number of punitive measures against the Kurdistan Region because of the referendum.
 
Baghdad, however, has demanded the KRG nullify the result and abide by a court ruling that concluded the Iraqi constitution does not allow for secession.
  
Abadi said on Tuesday that a referendum is acceptable if it does not result in independence. It would be regarded as no more than a “poll,” he said.
 
The KRG is yet to declare its position with regard to the court verdict despite UN pressure to heed it.
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