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Iraq's Kurdish Government Offers To 'Freeze' Independence Vote Results

Iraqi Kurds fly an Israeli flag and Kurdish flags during an event to urge people to vote in independence referendum held in September.

Iraq's Kurdish regional government late on October 24 offered to "freeze" the results of last month's overwhelmingly approved independence referendum to prevent further violence and facilitate dialogue with Baghdad.

"Continued fighting does not lead any side to victory, but it will drive the country towards disarray and chaos, affecting all aspects of life," the Kurdish government in Irbil said in a statement.

It offered an "immediate cease-fire" in the Kurdish region, a freeze on the referendum results, and an "open dialogue" with the federal government in Baghdad based on the country's constitution.

Kurds supported independence by 92 percent in the September 25 referendum, which Baghdad repeatedly denounced as illegal. The plebiscite was also opposed by regional powers Iran and Turkey and most Western governments.

Iraq's central government has demanded the cancellation of the vote results before it would negotiate with Kurdish leaders. It had no immediate response to the Kurdish offer.

Iraqi forces supported by Iran-backed Shi'ite militias last week took over the oil-rich province of Kirkuk and other areas which came under control of Kurdish Peshmerga forces as they ousted the Islamic State extremist group from the region in recent years.

Some 30 Peshmerga fighters and 10 Shi'ite militia members were killed in clashes, and thousands of Kurds fled Kirkuk to the northern cities of Sulaimaniya and Irbil.

Based on reporting by dpa and Reuters