Macron's invitation to visit France not related to Kurdish referendum - Iraqi PM

A still image taken from a video shows Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi speaking as he makes a statement in Baghdad, Iraq September 24, 2017. REUTERS/via Reuters TV

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said on Saturday an invitation from French President Emmanuel Macron to visit Paris was not related to the Kurdish independence referendum.

The invitation was delivered to Abadi on Aug. 26 by the French foreign and defense ministers during a visit to Baghdad, Abadi’s office said in a statement, adding its purpose was “to strengthen bilateral relations and concentrate efforts on fighting terrorism.”

A source in Macron’s office said Abadi had accepted an invitation from Macron to visit Paris on Oct. 5 for talks on the Kurdish independence referendum.

A phone call between Abadi and Macron, after Monday’s referendum “did not mention in any way the need to recognize the rights of the Kurdish people,” said Abadi’s statement.

Reporting by Maher Chmaytelli; Editing by Janet Lawrence