French President Emmanuel Macron and Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi appear to disagree on the purpose of the Iraqi prime minister’s visit to Paris.
In a statement, the presidency said France wanted to "help Iraq to stop tensions from setting in" after the deeply divisive vote on September 25 saw Iraqi Kurdistan overwhelmingly support secession.
“Emmanuel Macron stressed the importance of preserving the unity and integrity of Iraq while recognising the rights of the Kurdish people. Any escalation must be avoided,” the presidency said.
“Faced with the priority of fighting Daesh and the stabilisation of Iraq, Iraqis must remain united,” it added, referring to the Islamic State group.
However, Abadi said on Saturday that Macron’s invitation was not related to the Kurdish independence referendum.
The invitation was delivered to Abadi on August 26 by the French foreign and defence ministers during a visit to Baghdad, Abadi's office saidadding its purpose was “to strengthen bilateral relations and concentrate efforts on fighting terrorism.”
While Monday’s independence vote was non-binding, it has nonetheless sent tensions in the country and the region soaring.
In response to the poll, the Iraqi government has cut Kurdistan's direct air links with the outside world, partially isolating the northern region.
Turkey and Iran, which both have their own Kurdish minorities, have denounced the referendum, while the United States described it as “unilateral” and lacking legitimacy.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP and REUTERS)
Date created : 2017-09-30