Kurd leader backs Iraq handover plan

Kurd leader Jalal Talabani has given a qualified welcome to a UN resolution on Iraq's future.

    Talabani had threatened to quit Iraq's interim setup

    Talabani's positive response comes despite earlier threats to quit the interim government over the document's failure to recognise Kurdish autonomy.

     

    "We are happy that the Security Council resolution mentioned federalism, but we regret that it did not mention the Kurdish people," Talabani told a television station run by his Patriotic Union of Kurdistan party late on Wednesday.

       

    Kurds have campaigned hard to win guarantees that Iraq's new government will not be able to take away the autonomy in the north that they have enjoyed since the 1991 Gulf War.

       

    The Security Council resolution adopted on Tuesday endorses a transfer of power to an interim Iraqi government on 30 June, but does not mention a provisional constitution signed in March that enshrined Kurdish self-rule.

       

    Core demand

     

    Speaking in New York, UN envoy Al-Akhdar al-Ibrahimi said on Wednesday he felt Iraq's Kurds and Shia could find "common ground" in their dispute over minority and majority rights.

       

    The interim constitution gives Kurds in three northern provinces an effective veto over any attempt to encroach on their autonomy - a clause Iraq's top two Kurdish leaders, Talabani and Masoud Barzani, had fought hard to have included.

       

    Before the UN vote, Talabani and Barzani, had threatened to withdraw Kurdish members of the interim government, boycott national elections due next year and bar central government representatives from Kurdistan if autonomy was not guaranteed.

       

    Kurdish officials from various parties were expected to meet on Thursday to discuss the UN resolution.

    SOURCE: Reuters


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