Kurdish Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani [L] has received an official letter from the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres regarding talks between Erbil and Baghdad after the Kurdish vote on independence in September. Photo:AFP
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – The head of the United Nations has urged Erbil and Baghdad to hold political dialogue to resolve their outstanding issues on the basis of the Iraqi constitution, according to a statement from the Kurdistan Regional Government.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres made the call in a letter to KRG Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani, the statement read on Friday.
The problems between Erbil and Baghdad should be resolved in a peaceful manner through "political dialogue" based on the Iraqi constitution, the UN chief wrote.
"I urged the two sides to take necessary steps to prepare a suitable environment so that we can conduct a real negotiation," the statement quoted Guterres as writing in his letter to Barzani.
The KRG statement added that Guterres is "delighted" that both Erbil and Baghdad have announced on more than an occasion that they are prepared to enter talks.
Erbil has said for a long time that it is ready for open dialogue with the Iraqi government in light of the constitution. It has respected to a number of rulings from the Iraqi Federal Court that in effect considered the independence referendum null and void.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said in late December that political dialogue may take place at a later date after technical talks taking place now with a focus on the issue of the salaries of KRG state employees.
Saad al-Hadithi, spokesperson for the Iraqi government, has said that the KRG must nullify the vote for independence before talks can begin.
Guterres stated that the two sides should preserve the calm that has prevailed since the ceasefire came into effect in late October following deadly clashes between Iraqi and Peshmerga forces in the disputed areas.
"In order to make progress towards national reconciliation, further strengthen calm in the region, and to face the threat that is still posed by ISIS, the current calm should be preserved," Guterres concluded in his letter.
The Iraqi presidency in mid-December called on Erbil and Baghdad to start negotiations under the watch of the UN.
The presidency called for the federal government and KRG to "immediately begin dialogue... under the auspices of the presidency's office and with the technical support of the United Nations" on the basis of the constitution and Federal Court rulings.