Baghdad, Iraq’s Kurds Hold Talks on Peshmerga Pullback
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Iraqi and Kurdish commanders held talks Saturday on a withdrawal of Kurdish fighters from disputed areas after a truce was declared in clashes over a key border post, the Iraqi premier's office said.
"The main task of this joint technical committee is to allow the deployment without violence of federal forces along the borders," Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi's spokesman, Saad al-Hadithi, told AFP.
"Commanders of the federal forces and of the (Kurdish) Peshmerga are meeting to allow for this redeployment in a peaceful and humane fashion," he said.
On Friday night, Abadi ordered the 24-hour ceasefire as his troops and the Peshmerga faced off on the second day of an Iraqi drive to capture the vital oil export point of Fishkhabur on the Turkish frontier.
The two sides had exchanged heavy artillery fire in the latest flare-up of a crisis sparked by a Kurdish independence vote on Sept. 25.
Hadithi said the aim of Saturday's talks was to negotiate the return to a 2003 "blue line" restricting semi-autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan to the three northern provinces of Erbil, Dohuk and Sulaimaniyah.
Since mid-October, Iraqi forces have reclaimed the entire oil-rich province of Kirkuk, stripping the Kurds of a major chunk of their oil revenues and dealing a crippling blow to their hopes of independence.
On Friday, the Iraqi military gave the Kurds an ultimatum to withdraw from the Fishkhabur border area where rival pipelines belonging to the two sides cross into Turkey.