Wednesday, May 16, 2007


Al-Askari - Kurds agree to postpone referendum on Kirkuk

(Azzaman) - The government has hinted at ongoing talks with armed groups fighting U.S. occupation troops. An adviser to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said he saw such meetings as important. Sami al-Askari did not deny that Maliki had himself taken part in the meetings but said, “In principle we will be please in case such meetings have taken place.”
Askari also confirmed that progress was made in efforts to revise a law that made it impossible for former members of the Baath party to assume government jobs. With regard to constitutional amendments, he said Iraqi deputies and personalities charged with the task have also reported ‘good progress.’
But more important for the government has been, according to Askari, Kurds’ consent to postpone a referendum on the future of the oil-rich city of Kirkuk. The ethnically mixed city, where some of Iraq’s largest oil fields are situated, is contested by Kurds, Arabs and Turkmen. Its destiny was to be decided by the end of this year but the United Nations charged of organizing the referendum says security conditions would discourage the stationing of independent monitors there.

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