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Turkey wants summit with Iran and Iraq after Kurd vote: PM Yildirim

30 September 2017

The director of Irbil airport, Talar Faiq Salih said humanitarian, military and diplomatic flights were excluded from the ban.

Turkish Airlines and fellow Turkish carriers Atlas and Pegasus, which offer frequent connections to Iraqi Kurdistan, would halt their flights from Friday, the Turkish consulate in Erbil said.

The moves came in retaliation to the autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government's (KRG) planned referendum on the secession of northern Iraq's Kurdish region on Monday. However, Ankara has yet to impose any retaliatory measures.

But travel to the Kurdish region will become harder if airports in Erbil and Sulaimaniya are closed to worldwide flights.

Officials said the airports were already subject to the Iraq Civil Aviation Authority and that any restrictions would affect the battle against so-called Islamic State (IS).

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There was some opposition to the vote among non-Kurdish populations in disputed areas between the Kurdish and Iraqi governments. But "so far, up to this moment, there is no reply from Baghdad", she said at a press conference held at the airport.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi says the flight ban set to go into effect this evening is not meant to "starve" the Kurdish people.

On June 7, 2017, Kurdish Regional Government president Masoud Barzani announced that the region had set September 25th, 2017 as the date for a referendum on independence.

The Moroccan Ministry of Foreign Affairs has not yet released any statement about the independence vote of the Iraqi region.

The Kurdistan government has said they were pushed to stage the independence referendum after the central government violated at least one third of the Iraqi constitution, including Article 140 that concerns the fate of the disputed or Kurdistani areas such as the oil-rich and multi-ethnic Kirkuk province. A source in Macron's office said Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Abadi had accepted an invitation to come Paris on October 5 for talks on the issue.

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Erdogan has repeatedly threatened economic sanctions, but has given few details.

Nearly 93 per cent of Iraqi Kurds who took part in the referendum voted for independence and a formal split from Baghdad to form an autonomous Kurdish region. The idea of an independent state has been central to Kurdish politics for decades.

"We will never hold talks based on the results of the referendum", Abadi told the parliament.

In response, Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi said that any dialogue required as a condition precedent the cancellation of the results of the separatist consultation. Iraq and Turkey have also held joint military drills.

The US was also opposed to the referendum, saying it could inflame tensions in the region.

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Turkey wants summit with Iran and Iraq after Kurd vote: PM Yildirim