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Budget Dispute Continues: Negotiations Yield Limited Progress Between Iraq, KRG

© Sputnik / Sputnik, Dmitry Vinogradov / Go to the mediabankOn September 25, Iraqi Kurdistan is set to hold a long-scheduled referendum on its independence from Baghdad.
On September 25,  Iraqi Kurdistan is set to hold a long-scheduled referendum on its independence from Baghdad. - Sputnik International
Iraqi forces, including militiamen from several Popular Mobilization Units (PMUs), used Iraqi Kurdistan’s referendum as a pretext to attack Kurdish Peshmerga troops, and retake the oil-rich city of Kirkuk, last October.

Around five months on, Baghdad and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) are yet to reach a political settlement and fully normalize diplomatic relations. In addition to attacking Kurdish forces, Iraq seized all of Iraqi Kurdistan's border crossing and airports, effectively isolating the autonomous region.

Nechirvan Barzani, the Prime Minister of Iraqi Kurdistan, has been leading efforts to resolve the dispute via dialogue, meeting with a number of world leaders — including German Chancellor Angela Merkel — to pressure the Iraqi federal government to negotiate.

READ MORE: Iraqi Parliament Adopts Year's Budget Amid Protests of Kurds

A Kurdish official reported yesterday that only international flights for pilgrims to Saudi Arabia will resume service, despite Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi previously promising to lift the flight ban.

Banners calling for voting in a referendum on Iraqi Kurdistan independence from Baghdad in Erbil - Sputnik International
Independence Crisis: Iraqi Kurdistan's Government Was in a Lose-Lose Position
Relations between the KRG and Baghdad were strained prior to the referendum, with the Iraqi federal government not sending Iraqi Kurdistan its share of the federal budget since 2014.

PM Barzani has also been negotiating to resolve this matter based on the country's constitution, but both parties are yet to agree on a 2018 budget for the KRG. Iraq's PM recently promised to provide the KRG will some emergency funding to pay government employees, but it's unclear if he will follow through.

"We might send the salaries of employees [of the KRG's health and education ministries] before Newroz [Kurdish new year]," PM Abadi said during his weekly press briefing.

Meanwhile, Iraqi President Fuad Masum called for an "emergency meeting" with Erbil to discuss the budget dispute, Kurdistan24 reported, without mentioning when the meeting is scheduled to take place.

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