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U.S. Opposes Kurdish Region's Move To Vote On Independence From Iraq

The United States on June 8 said it opposes a decision by Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region to hold a referendum in September on independence from Iraq.

"The United States supports a unified, federal, stable, and democratic Iraq," State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said.

Kurds currently enjoy almost total autonomy in the northern region or Iraq today, but tensions with the Baghdad government remain over control of oil reserves.

Though Kurds have proved to be tough and reliable allies in the fight against the Islamic State, the United States is wary of the Kurds' longstanding dream of full independence, fearing a split could provoke a new round of conflict in Iraq.

"We understand and appreciate the legitimate aspirations of the people of Iraqi Kurdistan," Nauert said.

"However, we have expressed our concerns to authorities in the Kurdistan Region that holding a referendum -- even this non-binding resolution -- at this time will distract from more urgent priorities."

Nauert listed those priorities as defeating Islamic State, housing refugees from the fighting, rebuilding the economy, and resolving existing political disputes.

She said the Kurdish region should resolve its disputes with Baghdad "on the basis of the Iraqi constitution."

Based on reporting by AP, AFP, and Reuters