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Barzani: US Must Resolve Kurdish Issues Before Troop Withdrawal From Iraq


The prime minister of Iraq's Kurdistan regional government says the United States must help resolve pending Kurdish issues before withdrawing from Iraq.

Nechirvan Barzani appealed for U.S. support this week on the constitutional article (Article 140) governing territorial disputes, and the oil and gas law.

The national oil law has been delayed in parliament following disagreements over revenue-sharing among the assembly's Shi'ite, Sunni Arab and Kurdish factions.

Control of the oil-rich, ethnically-mixed province of Kirkuk also is a hotly contested issue.

The large Kurdish community wants Kirkuk to be incorporated into the autonomous Kurdistan region. But many Arabs and some Turkmen want it to remain under the control of Iraq's central government.

The U.S. has agreed to withdraw its troops from Iraq by the end of 2011.

The pull-out date is set in a U.S.-Iraqi security agreement, but details of the withdrawal have not been determined.

A spokesman for Kurdistan's Ministry of Religious Affairs says although the Kurdish region has been relatively stable compared to other parts of Iraq, it still faces the threat of extremism and terrorism.

Spokesman Mariwan Naqshbandi told VOA's Kurdish service this week that some imams are presenting extremist views during their Friday prayers.

The Religious Affairs Ministry is hosting a three-day conference in Irbil to address concerns that some imams do not have the necessary Islamic knowledge to lead the prayers.

The Kurdistan government's prime minister told the conference that imams should guide their followers to co-exist with people of other faiths.

U.S., Iranian and Russian representatives are observing the conference, which ends Thursday.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP,Reuters and VOA's Kurdish Service.

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