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French President Emmanuel Macron on Saturday called for a rapid opening of dialogue between Iraq’s central government and Iraqi Kurdish leaders and for “all militias” to be dismantled to ease tensions.


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“France calls for a constructive national dialogue to engage in Iraq,” Macron said at a joint news conference in Paris with Iraqi Kurdish leaders, including Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani.
Baghdad and the Kurdish regional capital Arbil have been locked in dispute ever since September’s independence referendum, which resulted in a resounding “yes” vote for independence in the autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq.
Iraqi security forces backed by paramilitaries responded by seizing the oil-rich Kurdish-held city of Kirkuk in October and other disputed territory.
Long-serving Kurdish president Masoud Barzani, whose nephew is Nechirvan, then resigned over the affair.
“Having a strong, reconciled, pluralistic Iraq which recognises each of its components is a condition for the immediate and medium-term stability,” of the Middle East, said Macron.
The French president, who previously met Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on 29 October, said dialogue needed to be built in “full respect of the constitution of 2005”.
He also called for “a gradual demilitarisation, in particular of the ‘Popular Mobilisation’ that has taken place in the last few years, and that all militias be gradually dismantled”.   Read more