ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres on Wednesday called on the Iraqi government and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to resolve all issues of dispute between the two sides.
Guterres made the comments during an opening speech at an international donor’s conference in Kuwait for the reconstruction of Iraq, pointing to the need for Erbil and Baghdad “to normalize relations.”
The UN Secretary-General stressed the importance of “resolving the problematic issues outstanding between the Kurdistan Region and Iraq” following the Sep. 25 independence vote.
Guterres also urged the Iraqi government to begin the safe and voluntary return of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) to their homes in areas liberated from the Islamic State (IS).
“A large number of displaced Iraqis have not been able to return to their areas so far, and their return should be a priority for the Iraqi government,” he said.
“The establishment of a culture of tolerance and coexistence among all components contributes, to a large extent, to reduce the level of violence and extremism,” the UN Secretary-General concluded.
Relations between Kurdistan and Iraq went downhill following the Region’s historic independence vote last year which received overwhelming support for secession.
Baghdad refused to recognize the results and instead responded by imposing collective punitive measures against Kurdistan including an international flight ban (still in place) and the use of military force to take over disputed areas.
In recent weeks, however, both sides have exchanged delegations to begin a dialogue and resolve all outstanding issues peacefully—a call senior Kurdish officials have often repeated.