IRBIL, Iraq (AP) — The latest on the Iraqi Kurdish referendum on support for independence from Baghdad and the tensions surrounding the vote (all times local):
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is expressing regret that Iraq’s Kurds have gone ahead with an independence referendum.
U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Guterres noted the referendum was “unilaterally declared, included disputed areas” and was opposed by Iraqi authorities and the global community. The spokesman said Guterres regretted that opportunities for negotiations were not seized and viewed the decision to hold the vote as potentially destabilizing.
The vote held Monday was billed by the Kurdish leadership as an exercise in self-determination. To Baghdad, the vote threatens a redrawing of Iraq’s borders, while leaders in Turkey and Iran fear the move would embolden their own Kurdish populations.
The United States says it’s “deeply disappointed” that Iraqi Kurds held a referendum on independence Monday, calling the vote “unilateral.”
State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert says the move will “increase instability and hardships” for the Kurdish region of Iraq. She says it will also complicate the ability of the regional Kurdish government to work with Iraq’s central government and neighboring countries.
Still, Nauert says the U.S. won’t alter its “historic relationship” with Iraqi Kurds because of the referendum.
Nauert also says the U.S. opposes moves by any parties to change boundaries in Iraq. She says the Islamic State group and other extremists are hoping to “exploit instability and discord.”
The vote has deeply alarmed Iraq’s government as well as neighboring Turkey and Iran. The nonbinding vote is expected to pass overwhelmingly.
The United Nations warns of the “potentially destabilizing” effects of the referendum carried out in Iraq’s Kurdish region Monday.
The statement from the organization’s secretary general released after polls closed Monday says “all outstanding issues between the federal government and the Kurdistan Regional Government should be resolved through structured dialogue and constructive compromise.”
The vote in a referendum on support for independence Monday has rattled the region’s relations with Baghdad and regional powers.
The vote is non-binding and not expected to result in immediate independence, but Kurdish leaders say it will open the door to negotiations with Baghdad for greater autonomy.
Turkey’s military has…