KRG Leaders Call For Peaceful Solution To Tensions, As President Returns To Baghdad
Secretary general of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and Iraqi President Jalal Talabani. Photo: AFP.
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Iraqi President Jalal Talabani has returned to the Iraqi capital after leaving in protest to Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s actions, officials said, as leaders of the autonomous Kurdistan region on Monday emphasized a peaceful solution to tensions with Baghdad over a troop deployment in disputed lands.
But in their fifth high-level meeting leaders of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), which together govern Iraqi Kurdistan, also emphasized they would not compromise on the issue of disputed territories, which are claimed both by the Kurds and Iraq’s central Arab government.
“The PUK and KDP value the multi-party committee for the affairs of the disputed territories and will spare no effort for its success,” the parties said in a joint statement.
“The leaders stressed the need for dialogue and a peaceful solution to the problem,” the statement added.
Tensions between Baghdad and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) have been high in recent weeks after Maliki dispatched his newly-formed Dijla forces into the disputed territories, where the KRG also sent in its own Peshmerga forces, triggering a stand-off.
The disputed territories include lands in the provinces of Kirkuk, Diyala and Nineveh.
As the threat of a possible war looms between Erbil and Baghdad, PUK and KDP officials emphasized they would not allow the political turmoil to escalate into Kurdish-Arab enmity.
A PUK official, who wished to remain anonymous, had earlier told Rudaw that Talabani’s absence in Baghdad and his return to Sulaimani had been “related to his anger over Maliki’s recent actions.”
Kurdistan Region Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani confirmed Talabani’s return, but added that, “His return isn’t only to solve the problems between Erbil and Baghdad.”
“He returns as the president and he will hold meetings to find a way out of the problems,” Barzani said in his closing speech at the Oil and Gas conference in Erbil.
He said that the KRG, which had earlier sent a delegation to Baghdad to ease the stand-off south of Kirkuk, would send a second team under PUK deputy secretary general Barham Salih, “To clarify the position of the Kurdistan Region.”
Upon returning from medical treatment in Germany in September, Talabani had proposed a national dialogue among all political factions, and asked Maliki to freeze the formation of the Dijla forces.
“Maliki promised Talabani to postpone the formation of the Dijla Operations Command, but still went ahead with it even if though it meant violating the rights of others,” according to Fareed Assasard, a senior PUK official.
PUK officials called on Maliki to change his attitude, saying he had been “disloyal” to Talabani.
“Recently, Maliki has taken many wrong steps. He must fix his mistakes or we will have no option but to use other means to deal with his mistakes,” PUK spokesperson Azad Jundiyani told Rudaw last month.