Iran To Reopen Border With Iraq's Kurdistan Region

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In a statement on Monday, the State Department praised Barzani as "a historic figure and courageous leader of his people, most recently in our common fight to destroy ISIS".

In the statement, Nauert stressed a USA desire to work with KRG Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani, Masoud Barzani's nephew and a fellow member of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) faction, and with Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani, a member of the other faction, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK). No casualties were reported.

As members of the parliament debated whether to approve Mr Barzani's request, men armed with sticks stormed the building in Irbil where they were meeting. Opposition lawmakers who had been barricaded inside managed to leave later, according to their parties.

Barzani, 71, said on Sunday he would give up his position as president on November 1 after an independence referendum he championed in northern Iraq backfired and triggered military and economic retaliation by the Iraqi government.

The president's Kurdistan Regional Government said it had ordered the local police forces, known as Asayish, to stop the attacks.

The referendum in September resulted in 92 percent of Kurds voting for independence from Iraq.

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Abadi said he was following developments in the Kurdish area closely.

Iraqi premier Haider al-Abadi has called for calm and avoiding chaos in Kurdistan Region as violence was reported following declaration by the region's president that he rejects a renewed tenure. Disputes between the KRG and the Baghdad federal government range from the perennial tussle over how to share oil revenues to the control of territory and border crossings.

Although Kirkuk is outside the borders of the Kurdish autonomous region, Kurds consider it the heart of their homeland.

If Kurdistan had implemented its plan to break away from Iraq, the country would have faced "war and long-term bloodshed", which would have also affected neighboring countries, Baqeri was quoted as saying.

The two sides are now negotiating control of border posts including areas where an important oil pipeline crosses into Turkey.

"This is an assault on freedom of press and expression", replied Erbil-based Kurdistan 24's management in a letter to the International Federation of Journalists. He told VOA that Barzani's move could ease concerns of the Baghdad government and of Turkey, Iran and other countries opposed to Kurdish independence.