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BAGHDAD, Oct 19 (Reuters) - The semi-autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in northern Iraq welcomed on Thursday a call by Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi for talks to resolve a crisis triggered by a Kurdish referendum on independence last month.
Abadi spoke on Tuesday, saying he considered the Sept. 25 referendum, in which Kurds voted overwhelmingly for independence despite Baghdad’s opposition, “a thing of the past”. The day before, the Iraqi army retook the oil-producing Kirkuk area from Kurdish Peshmerga forces on his orders.
“It will not be possible to resolve the issues through military operations,” the KRG cabinet said in a statement after a meeting in the Kurdistan region capital Erbil.
“(We have) asked the international community to help both sides start a dialogue to solve the outstanding issues based on the Iraqi constitution,” the statement said.
Abadi had asked that the KRG cancel the outcome of the referendum as a precondition for negotiations to begin.
The statement made no mention of the referendum, for which Baghdad retaliated with a series of punitive measures including the recapture of Kirkuk, which lies just outside KRG boundaries but had been in Peshmerga hands since 2014. (Reporting by Maher Chmaytelli; Editing by Mark Heinrich)