Kurdish Leader Barzani, UK Ambassador discuss Baghdad-Erbil disputes

Kurdish Leader Barzani, UK Ambassador discuss Baghdad-Erbil disputes

Shafaq News/ Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani met with UK Ambassador to Iraq Stephen Hitchen on Wednesday for talks on the status of disputed territories under dispute between the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the Federal Government of Iraq, calling for viable solutions.

According to a readout issued by his Headquarters, Barzani and his guests reviewed political and security developments in Iraq and the Middle East.

The two sides commended the positive progress and between Baghdad and Erbil in resolving longstanding issues, the readout said.

The talks addressed security and political challenges in the disputed areas and the difficulties endured by the residents under the current situation.

"Both leaders emphasized the importance of finding effective solutions to these problems," it added.

The meeting touched on the security and political situation in the Middle East, according to the readout.

These disputed areas form a strip of land extending from the Iraqi-Syrian border to the Iraqi-Iranian border. This strip is 1000 kilometers long and covers an area of 37,000 square kilometers. It includes important oil and gas wealth, specifically in Kirkuk province, which makes control of these provinces even more consequential. The Kurdish parties dream of annexing Kirkuk to the KRI due to its potential as a vital economic base, while many leaders in Baghdad insist that Kirkuk be part of Iraq proper to strengthen Iraqi unity and deprive Kurdish parties of such leverage.

Although Article 140 of the Iraqi constitution affirmed the responsibility of the executive authority to "undertake the necessary steps to complete the implementation of the requirements of all subparagraphs of Article 58 of the Transitional Administrative Law," as that authority must "accomplish completely (normalization and census and concludes with a referendum in Kirkuk and other disputed territories to determine the will of their citizens), by a date not to exceed the 31st of December 2007," this has not yet been achieved due to complex political and security considerations.

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