Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi addresses reporters in a joint press conference in the capital of Kurdistan Region, Erbil, in June 2015. File photo:Rudaw
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – A high-level Kurdistan delegation is to visit Baghdad on Monday to discuss the planned referendum for September with Iraqi officials, including Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, a member of the delegation told Rudaw English Saturday.
Vian Dakhil, a Yezidi member of the Iraqi parliament, said they have no red lines over the agenda of the meeting or who they will meet with since their mission is for a “great cause.”
She said that they will also meet with foreign embassies while in Baghdad.
The date for the trip was set after the delegation met on Saturday in Erbil. They also held a meeting with President Masoud Barzani to discuss their agenda.
The delegation includes members of Kurdish and minority parties, including the two main ruling parties in Kurdistan, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK).
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson commended the decision to send the Kurdistan delegation to Baghdad when he spoke with Barzani by phone on Thursday.
Dakhil said that several issues will be discussed with Iraqi officials and foreign delegates, but that the main focus is the referendum.
A statement from the Kurdish Presidency following the Saturday meeting said that they will negotiate “political issues, future relations between the [Kurdistan] Region and Baghdad,” during their visit to Iraq’s capital.
One item that is not up for discussion, however, is the timing of the vote.
The date of the referendum stands as it is, September 25, Dakhil said.
In his phone call with Barzani, Tillerson asked Erbil to postpone the vote. The Kurdish president declined, saying the US administration has failed to provide guarantees or an “alternative” that would secure the future of Kurdistan.
Though Baghdad considers the decision to hold the referendum unilateral and unconstitutional, Abadi has said that he would welcome the Kurdistan delegation.
Rudaw understands that the delegation has prepared a lengthy report that chronicled about 50 articles of the Iraqi constitution that Erbil says have been violated by Baghdad, mainly Article 140 that concerns the disputed or Kurdistani areas claimed by both governments, and the budget cut by Iraq since early 2014.
The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) tasked the Kurdish ministries in late July to prepare a dossier that may request the Iraqi government to pay hundreds of billions of dollars to Erbil as compensation when the two sides sit down to negotiate Kurdistan’s bid for independence.