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No turning back on independence referendum says Kurdish President

Iraq’s Kurdish leader said on Thursday that there was no turning back on a bid to achieve an independent Kurdish state, reports Reuters.

The President of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Masoud Barzani told Reuters that the timetable for independence after a vote in September “was flexible but not open-ended.”

The referendum is thought to be a deciding factor in what happens with the status of the city of Kirkuk, which Kurdish Peshmerga defended from Islamic State in 2015.

Mr Barzani stressed that the people of Kirkurk would decide their fate, adding,

“Whatever the people of Kirkurk decide within the referendum, that decision should be respected.”

Mr Barzani added that negotiations with Baghdad, neighbours and international powers would start immediately after the vote in order to reach an amicable agreement.