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Kurdish offer to Baghdad: Freeze independence referendum results, ceasefire and dialogue

The offer by the Kurdistan Regional Government is part of a plan to defuse tension with the Iraqi central government. An immediate ceasefire and halt to all military operations in the region have also been proposed.

Iraqi forces drive past an oil production plant as they head towards the city of Kirkuk (Getty Images/AFP/A. Al-Rubaye)

Iraqi forces drive past an oil production plant as they head towards the city of Kirkuk

The offer to freeze the results of the Kurdish referendum on independence was part of an attempt to contain the conflict with the Iraqi central government in Baghdad.

In a statement issued early on Wednesday, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) also called for an open dialogue between Irbil and Baghdad, based on the country's constitution.

"Continued fighting does not lead any side to victory, but it will drive the country toward disarray and chaos, affecting all aspects of life," the government stated.

Read more: What you need to know about the Kurdish-Iraqi dispute

Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani decided to push ahead with last month's referendum for independence despite the objections of Baghdad, Turkey, Iran, the US and the United Nations. The referendum for Iraqi Kurdistan on September 25 returned 93 percent of votes in favor of independence.

Later on Wednesday, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi traveled to Ankara for talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the referendum. In Turkey, the government has long been locked in a conflict with Kurdish separtists and the armed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) is considered a terrorist organization by the government.

Kurds pushed out of Kirkuk

Wednesday's call for an immediate ceasefire and a halt to all military operations in the northern region followed a sweep by Iraqi forces as they took control of 14,000 square kilometers (about 5,400 square miles) of Iraqi Kurdistan in five days.

Kurdish fighters had occupied territory around the oil-rich province of Kirkuk during their three-year fight against "Islamic State" (IS) militants. Iraqi security forces fled Kirkuk in 2014 when it was occupied by IS. Kurdish peshmerga fighters, with the support of the US-led coalition, eventually drove IS out of the area.

Kirkuk was controversially included in the September referendum vote, despite opposition from Baghdad, its Iranian allies and the US.

The city of Kirkuk and the surrounding region are home to communities of Arabs, Kurds, Turkmen and Christians. Last week, the deputy governor of Kirkuk, Rakan Saeed al-Jobouri, was appointed to run the city until a new governor can be chosen in municipal elections. He is the first Arab governor in Kirkuk since 2003.

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jm,es/cmk (Reuters, dpa)

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