Politics, Middle East

Iranian officials meet PUK members in Kirkuk: Source

Tension has been on the rise between Erbil and Baghdad over Kurdish independence referendum

15.10.2017
Iranian officials meet PUK members in Kirkuk: Source file photo

ERBIL, Iraq

An Iranian military delegation met with members of the Iraqi Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) party in northern Iraq’s Kurdish region, a Iraqi Kurdish officer said Sunday.

The meeting was held in Rashad town in Kirkuk and attended by a number of PUK members, including Pavel Talabani, the son of late president Jalal Talabani, and PUK intelligence chief Lahore Sheikh Junji, the officer, who spoke on anonymity because he was unauthorized to speak to media, told Anadolu Agency.

Talks between the two sides tackled a plan under which the Shia Hashd al-Shaabi militia, which supports the central government in Baghdad, will impose its control on Kirkuk province, the officer said.

In June 2014, the Kurdish Peshmerga forces on a number of strategic positions in Kirkuk when the Daesh terrorist group swept through northern Iraq and the army collapsed.

Tension has been on the rise between Erbil and Baghdad since last month when the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) held a controversial referendum on the independence of the Kurdish region.

The Sept. 25 illegitimate referendum has faced strong opposition from most regional and international actors -- including the U.S., Turkey, and Iran -- who warned that the poll would distract from Iraq’s fight against terrorism and further destabilize the region.

The Iraqi parliament has approved a set of measures against the Kurdish region, including the deployment of federal forces in disputed areas, including Kirkuk.

Reporting by Idris Okuducu:Writing by Mahmoud Barakat

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