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Kurdish leaders reject Baghdad demand to cancel independence vote, renew dialogue offer

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq’s Kurdish leadership rejected on Sunday the Iraqi government demand that it cancels the outcome of an independence referendum as a precondition for talks to resolve the dispute.

Kurdish leaders who met to discuss the crisis in the Kurdish town of Dokan renewed their offer to “resolve peacefully” the crisis with Baghdad, Kurdistan Regional Government President Masoud Barzani’s aide, Hemin Hawrami, said on Twitter.

The meeting was attended by Barzani, Iraqi President Fuad Masum, and Hero Talabni, the wife of Jalal Talabani, a Kurdish leader who died earlier this month.

They rejected what they described as “military threats” from Iraqi forces against Kurdish Peshmerga fighters, and pledged to defend Kurdish-held territory in case of an attack.

Reporting by Maher Chmaytelli, editing by Louise Heavens