United Kingdom 'does not support' referendum in northern Iraq

"We have heard many empty promises until now", Mr Barzani told a rally in the Kurdish city of Dohuk.

"The United States does not support the Kurdistan Regional Government's intention to hold a referendum later this month", the White House said in a statement on Friday.

"We therefore call on the Kurdistan Regional Government to call off the referendum and enter into serious and sustained dialogue with Baghdad, which the United States has repeatedly indicated it is prepared to facilitate".

"The leaders of the US, Britain and the United Nations would have had to commit to the date by which Kurdistan and Iraq would have negotiated Kurdish sovereignty - or commit to supporting a Kurdish unilateral declaration of independence".

An Iraqi interior ministry statement described the attack as "terrorist aggression" and did not link it to the tension caused by the Kurdish plan to hold the vote, on September 25.

Oil-rich Kirkuk is home to a mix of Arabs, Kurds, Turkmen and Christians.

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Opposition parties Goran and Jamaa Islamiya earlier said they would boycott the session.

Urging new talks between Iraq's central Baghdad government and the KRG, the office in a statement said the referendum would risk stability in the region.

Under this plan, a well-placed source told AFP, the worldwide community will oversee negotiations on revenue sharing in Iraq's oil budget and payment for Kurdish militia fighters.

The neighbouring countries of Turkey, Iran and Syria also feel that the move would threaten their territorial integrity, as large numbers of Kurdish population live in those countries.

Barzani criticized those claiming that referendum does not have legitimacy, saying "the referendum's legitimacy comes from the people of Kurdistan". It is clear that the Iraqi authorities can maximally grant a broader autonomy to the Iraqi Kurds seeking independence.

  • Megan Austin