BAGHDAD: Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al Abadi met on Saturday with the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region’s Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani for the first time since conflict broke out over a Kurdish independence referendum, officials said. The Kurdish referendum on September 25, which produced an overwhelming ‘yes’ for independence, angered Baghdad and Iraq’s neighbours Turkey and Iran, which have their own restive Kurdish minorities, and brought a rebuke from the United States and European Union, the Iraqi Kurds’ Western supporters. At the meeting, Abadi renewed his conditions for lifting restrictions imposed on the Kurdistan region after the referendum, including a direct international air travel ban.
He said the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) airports and border crossings have to come under the control of the federal authorities, according to a statement from his office. Abadi also demanded that the Kurds stop exporting crude oil from the KRG independently from the central government. “Kurdistan delegation headed by @PMBarzani is in Baghdad now, met with @HaiderAlAbadi,” Hemin Hawrami, a senior official of Barzani’s Kurdistan Democratic Party said on Twitter. “Later today the delegation will fly to Tehran for official meetings with senior Iranian officials Sunday,” added Hawrami, who is also an assistant of ex-KRG president Massoud Barzani. — Agencies