Iraqi parliamentarians on Tuesday voted to reject the nonbinding referendum planned to be held on September 25, authorizing the Iraqi prime minister to take all measures necessary to preserve Iraq's unity.
The parliament of Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan region convened for the first time in two years yesterday to vote on a plan to hold a referendum on independence on September 25.
An worldwide delegation, including the US, Britain and United Nations envoys, met with Kurdish President Masoud Barzani and presented the alternative path for the controversial independence referendum.
Iran, Turkey and the USA also object to the vote, fearing further instability.
Kirkuk, which is home to diverse communities including Arabs and Turkmen who oppose the vote, is under the authority of the Baghdad federal government. Kurdish forces took control of the province and other disputed areas in the summer of 2014, when the Islamic State group swept across northern and central Iraq and the Iraqi armed forces crumbled.
It also called on the regional government "to seize this opportunity and to enter into serious negotiations with Baghdad".
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In recent years, there have been tensions between Baghdad and Kurdistan over power-sharing, oil revenues and territorial disputes.
"The United States does not support the Kurdistan Regional Government's intention to hold a referendum later this month", the White House said in a statement on Friday.
"The referendum is distracting from efforts to defeat Daesh and stabilize the liberated areas", it added.
Barzani criticized those claiming that referendum does not have legitimacy, saying "the referendum's legitimacy comes from the people of Kurdistan".
The Iraqi Kurds fought an on-and-off insurgency for decades against the central government until the United States invasion of Iraq in 2003 enshrined Kurdish autonomy in the Iraqi constitution.