Iraqi Kurds Pledge to Respect Court Ruling Banning Secession

A boy rides a bicycle with the flag of Kurdistan in Tuz Khurmato Iraq

In a statement issued on Tuesday, the Kurdish regional government says "we respect" the November 6 decision by the Supreme Federal Court, an indication they may be willing to back down in the standoff with Baghdad.

"The success of security forces should be supported by solving the ongoing problems between the central government and the KRG, and constructive dialogue needs to be initiated to maintain the national gains", Masoum said.

His remarks came during a meeting between al-Abadi and the head of the United Nations mission in Iraq, Jan Kubis.

Iraq's Kurds voted overwhelmingly for independence in September in defiance of the central government in Baghdad, which had declared the referendum illegal.

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The court ruling came in response to a request from the central government in Baghdad to end any "wrong misinterpretation" of the Iraqi constitution and assert the country's unity.

The vote also raised hackles in neighboring Turkey and Iran, which have their own Kurdish minorities.

Following the Kurdish bid for independence, Baghdad halted global flights in and out of the autonomous region - known as Iraqi Kurdistan - and launched a military operation that recaptured the oil-rich city of Kirkuk and other disputed areas from Kurdish forces. It called for talks with the government in Baghdad to resolve tensions over the region's constitutional status.

Iraqi prime minister Haider Al Abadi had previously urged Erbil to abide by the federal court's November 6 decision in order for negotiations between the two sides to start.

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