Iraq PM gives Kurdistan 72 hours to give up airports

Baghdad (AFP) –


Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on Tuesday gave authorities in Kurdistan 72 hours to give the central government control of airports, a day after the autonomous region voted on independence.

Speaking at a news conference, Abadi said his government would ban "international flights to and from Kurdistan" in three days unless the airports are placed under its control.

Two airports operate in the autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq, at regional capital Arbil and in second city Sulaimaniyah.

In addition to national carrier Iraqi Airways, several international airlines from countries such as Germany, Iran, Jordan and Turkey also operate regular flights.

Abadi again stressed that negotiations on the back of the referendum result -- expected to be "yes" to independence -- were out of the question.

"We will not abandon the unity and sovereignty of Iraq because this is a national duty," he said.

"The government will impose its authority in accordance with the constitution. We remain engaged in talks, but we will not negotiate on the basis of the referendum," Abadi said.