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Baghdad dismisses Kurd offer to freeze independence vote


Baghdad (AFP)

Baghdad on Thursday dismissed an offer from Iraqi Kurdish leaders to freeze the outcome of a vote for independence last month in a bid to pave the way for dialogue.

A spokesman for Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said the referendum had already been consigned to history by facts on the ground after Iraqi federal troops and allied militia overran thousands of square kilometres (miles) of disputed territory long claimed by the Kurds.

"They speak of freezing the referendum but our answer is this -- the referendum belongs to the past and we have finished with it on the ground," Abadi's chief spokesman Haidar Hamada said on Facebook.

Iraqi Kurdish leaders offered on Wednesday to freeze the outcome of the September 25 vote which delivered a resounding yes to independence, in a bid to ease the crisis in their relations with Baghdad.

The proposal came as world powers scrambled to avert any further escalation of the conflict between the key allies in the fight against the Islamic State group that has seen more than 30 combatants killed.

There had been no immediate response from Baghdad but the Hashed al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilisation) force, whose mainly Iran-trained Shiite paramilitaries played a major role in the operation against the Kurds, said a freeze did not go far enough and demanded the outright annulment of the independence referendum.

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