Kurdish leaders studying western delegation plan to delay referendum

Kurdish referendum will not be granted international legitimacy

McGurk said at a news conference in Irbil that Brussels, Washington, Paris, London and Baghdad had cooperatively developed an alternative plan to the contentious referendum.

The non-binding referendum will see residents in provinces controlled by the KRG vote on independence from Baghdad.

Iraqi parliamentarians on Tuesday voted to reject the nonbinding referendum planned to be held on September 25, authorizing the Iraqi prime minister to take all measures necessary to preserve Iraq's unity.

The move came after Iraq's parliament voted to remove the governor of Kirkuk, a staunch supporter of Kurdish independence.

Downplaying his removal, Karim told Reuters the vote will take place.

Turkey and the USA are also opposed to the vote.

"This referendum is ill-timed and ill-advised", McGurk told reports in Irbil.

He did not disclose details of the plan, but said the discussion with the Kurdish leaders was "positive and constructive".

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Iraqi Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani's decision not to postpone an independence referendum later this month is "very wrong", Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday.

"The United States has repeatedly emphasized to the leaders of the Kurdistan Regional Government that the referendum is distracting from efforts to defeat ISIS and stabilize the liberated areas", the White House said a statement.

Iraqi Kurdistan parliament on Friday passed a law assigning the Kurdistan election body to hold an independence referendum on September 25 in the Kurdistan Region and disputed areas, the Rudaw news agency reported. "This is a very risky process", U.S. envoy to the multinational coalition battling Daesh, Brett McGurk, told reporters after a delegation that included the United Nations and British representatives met with Barzani.

Kirkuk - a province contested by Baghdad and autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan and home to diverse communities, including Arabs and Turkmen - decided at the end of August to take part in the controversial referendum.

"The escalating tactics this week by the Iraqis are causing a large public backlash, and will strengthen the Kurdish referendum enormously", Zebari said.

Iran and Syria also oppose the vote, fearing it could fan separatism among their own Kurdish populations.

IS in Iraq is on the verge of defeat, with Iraqi forces, backed by the USA -led coalition, recapturing most of the areas once controlled by the terror group. "But those steps have forced us to reconsider", Erdogan said.

The Kurdish forces, known as peshmerga, are considered one of the most consistent and capable allies of the West in the fight against IS. Ankara refused, insisting they would play a role in retaking Mosul. Baghdad said the troops were there without permission and called on them to withdraw. It is claimed by both the Kurds and the central government in Baghad.

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