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Iraqi Kurds Propose Setting Aside Referendum, Starting Dialogue

A group of Kurds dance in a show of solidarity with Iraqi Kurds who on Sept. 25 will be voting in an independence referendum in Iraqi Kurdistan, in Washington, D.C., Sept. 17, 2017. (P. Vohra/VOA)

The government in Iraq's Kurdistan region offered Wednesday to freeze the results of an independence referendum and start dialogue with the central government in Baghdad in order to prevent any further violence between the two sides.

Last week, Iraqi forces seized the city of Kirkuk and other disputed areas held by the Kurds in response to the referendum, which Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi's government declared illegal.

The Kurdistan Regional Government's statement said the confrontations have hurt both sides and could lead to ongoing bloodshed and social unrest in Iraq.

"Certainly, continued fighting does not lead any side to victory, but it will drive the country towards disarray and chaos, affecting all aspects of life," the KRG said.

In addition to setting aside the referendum and proposing talks, the Kurds also called for an immediate halt to all military operations in their northern region of Iraq.