Kurds head for Baghdad talks as 'final attempt' to end conflict 19.10.2012
By: Bassem Francis, Alhayat, Al-monitor

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Massoud Barzani, president of the Kurdistan region of Iraq. Photo: Reuters
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October 19, 2012

ERBIL-Hewlęr, Kurdistan region 'Iraq', — The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) decided to send a delegation to Baghdad in the framework of a "final" attempt to end disputes. The decision was taken after a meeting held by Kurdish forces under the leadership of Massoud Barzani, president of the Kurdistan region of Iraq.

Meanwhile, opposition leaders demanded an independent strategy based on the principle of consensus in the management of the differences of between the KRG and its neighbors.

Omid Sabah, spokesman for the presidency of the Kurdistan region, told Al-Hayat that the meeting, which was summoned by Barzani and boycotted by the opposition Al-Tagheer [Change List] movement, led Kurdish forces to "agree on sending a delegation to Baghdad, which may be the last attempt to resolve the crisis."

Sabah pointed out that the Kurds "will take a united stand (the nature of which was not revealed), in the event that they fail to reach a solution.”

On the other hand, Kurdish opposition leaders issued a statement after a meeting held yesterday [Oct. 17], calling for "work on returning responsibility for the region’s draft constitution — as well the responsibility for national laws — to the parliament, and the need to adopt consensus in passing these laws and the need to turn the regime into a parliamentary one."

The statement also highlighted the need to "create the necessary atmosphere and suitable platform that can help facilitate free and transparent elections and develop an independent strategy to develop the management of the [Kurdish] region's disputes with its neighbors, defend its interests and stay away from turning the region into a point used by regional powers to settle political accounts.”

Mohammed Tawfiq Rahim, head of diplomatic relations for the opposition Al-Tagheer [Change List] movement, told Al-Hayat that the movement "refused the invitation of KRG President Massoud Barzani to attend a meeting held by Kurdish forces, because we are convinced that there is no point in holding such meetings."

The movement "will not appoint representatives, in the event that a Kurdish delegation for negotiations with Baghdad is formed, having already pulled out of the coalition of Kurdish blocs in the Iraqi parliament," he added.

Barham Saleh, deputy secretary general of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, voiced his hope that "the members of the delegation traveling to Baghdad will not be restricted to the two main parties,www.ekurd.net but will also include representatives of opposition leaders as well, so that we can unite and defend the rights of our people and stress the need to resolve differences through dialogue.

"We are committed to the Iraqi constitution, but the Kurdish people are entitled to decide their own destiny. They have the right to stay in Iraq and participate in the Iraqi government, in line with the federal democratic constitution," he added.

Saleh pointed out during a meeting with a delegation of academics, intellectuals, politicians and journalists from Baghdad and Iraqi provinces that "a deep crisis is plaguing Baghdad amid attempts to destabilize the situation in the region. Therefore, this meeting is held to conduct a dialogue to know the facts and prove that the problem lies in Baghdad, not with the Kurds.”