Iraqi Kurdistan Region Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani met with Ambassador Douglas Silliman on October 3. US Consul in Erbil, Ken Gross, also attended the meeting, Rudaw reports.
“Both parties agreed that local and international parties should try to calm the situation and serious dialogue should be held between Erbil and Baghdad in order to resolve the problems,” read a statement issued by Erbil after the meeting.
The US opposed Kurdistan’s referendum and has refused to recognize the result, calling the vote destabilizing, citing concerns over distracting from the efforts against ISIS and stabilization efforts in Iraq.
The Kurdistan independence referendum took place on September 25. Iraqi Kurds overwhelmingly voted for independence, defying the central government in Baghdad as well as neighboring Turkey and Iran.
Following the referendum, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) started making plans for state building and future negotiations with Iraq before a declaration of independence for Republic of Kurdistan would be issued.
Prime Minister of Iraq Haider-al Abadi got parliamentary permission to send troops to the oil-rich contentious region of Kirkuk under control of KRG forces. He did not clarify whether Iraqi forces would move toward the border posts controlled by the KRG from the Iranian and Turkish side, or set up checkpoints in the vicinity of these posts in order to control the crossings.
Iraq declared the Iraqi Kurdistan airspace a no-fly zone, following the refusal to hand over control of its two international airports by 29 September to Baghdad.
Both Turkey and Iran, fearing separatist unrest in their own Kurdish minorities, threatened to close borders and impose sanctions on oil exports, with Iran and Iraq conducting joint military drills near the KRG borders on October 2. A small Iraqi force also deployed on the Turkish side of the border as part of joint drills with the Turkish army.
Iraqi Kurdistan leader Massoud Barzani appealed for peace and dialogue.
“We assure the international community that we are committed to a dialogue process with Baghdad,” he said.
Backed by Ankara and Tehran, the Iraqi government has demanded that the Kurdish leadership cancel the result of the referendum or face the prospect of sanctions, international isolation and military intervention.