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    Masked Kurdish forces, loyal to the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) party, stand guard at the North Oil Company headquarters in the northern Kurdish-controlled city of Kirkuk on March 2, 2017

    Erbil Ready for Talks With Baghdad on Iraqi Kurdistan Status – Patriotic Union

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    Iraqi Kurdistan is ready to hold negotiations with the Iraqi government on the region’s status after the independence vote, with two options available.

    CAIRO (Sputnik) – These variants include either full independence from Iraq or turning Iraq into a confederation, Mala Bakhtiar, a member of the political bureau of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), told Sputnik on Friday.

    On Monday, the referendum on Iraqi Kurdistan's independence took place in the autonomous region as well as in the number of areas officially controlled by Iraqi authorities. According to the Independent High Elections and Referendum Commission, 92.7 percent of voters supported the independence of Iraqi Kurdistan from Baghdad.

    "We are ready to discuss these two variants [full independence and confederation] … Now it is necessary to ‘clear’ the negotiating table, to include new and old projects in them [talks] … Let any country, the UN Security Council, the United Nations, embassies of big countries in Baghdad control these negotiations," Bakhtiar said.

    Bakhtiar expressed confidence that, first of all, it was necessary to improve the "atmosphere in Iraq," saying that it did not promote dialogue. Bakhtiar also described the measures aimed at introducing a blockade of Kurdistan as a "rush and nonconstructive" measure.

    The member of the PUK political bureau added that Iraqi Kurdistan was ready to protect its rights with military means.

    "To find a political solution is our common responsibility. But if Baghdad decides to impose its decisions on us, if they choose a military solution, we have a right to resistance. Resistance is our sacred right," Bakhtiar added.

    The independence vote in Iraqi Kurdistan has been widely criticized not only by Baghdad, but also by Iran, the United States and the United Nations.

    Tags:
    independence referendum, Patriotic Union of Kurdistan party, Iraq, Iraqi Kurdistan
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