Iraq Parliament Speaker to Visit Kurdish Region Amid Impasse

Iraq Parliament Speaker to Visit Kurdish Region Amid Impasse
The speaker of Iraq's central government is expected to meet with Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani on Sunday as the two sides remain at an impasse over Kurdish independence.

Iraq's Kurdish region voted for independence in a symbolic but controversial referendum two weeks ago. Baghdad responded by banning international flights out of the region and threatening to suspend Kurdish representatives from the national parliament.


Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi demanded the Kurdish self-government annul the results. The vote was largely opposed by the region's Arabs and other minorities.


Turkey and Iran also threatened punitive measures against the Kurdish region, fearing Kurds in their own countries would renew their campaigns for self-rule.


The office of Iraq's Parliament Speaker Salim Jabouri said he will meet with Barzani in the Kurdish capital of Irbil, a day after Parliament adjourned itself to allow more time to resolve the crisis.


The passing of Iraq's Kurdish former President Jalal Talabani, seen as a unifying figure in post-invasion Iraq, failed to reconcile the two sides. Abadi skipped the funeral Thursday, held in the Kurdish city of Suleimaniyah. Talabani's casket was draped in a Kurdish flag.


Barzani's office said he and two of Iraq's three vice presidents agreed Saturday to restore relations with Baghdad after a meeting in Irbil. The vice presidents' offices denied any resolution.


Iraq's landlocked Kurdish region produces up to a quarter of Iraq's petroleum output.