U.S. 'strongly opposes' Iraqi Kurdish independence vote: State Department

FILE PHOTO: A man holds a printed banner of Kurdistan region referendum in Erbil, Iraq August 26, 2017. REUTERS/Azad Lashkari

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States “strongly opposes” the planned independence referendum by Iraqi Kurds and urges Iraqi Kurdish leaders to engage in negotiations with the Baghdad government instead, the U.S. State Department said on Wednesday.

In the most forceful U.S. statement so far opposing the referendum, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said: “The United States strongly opposes the Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government’s referendum on independence, planned for September 25.”

Reporting by Mohammad Zargham; Editing by Eric Beech