Paris (NRT) – French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday (October 5) offered mediation between the Iraqi government and Kurds seeking independence after a referendum held on September 25.
Macron met with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi at the Elysee Palace in Paris after Abadi flew to Paris on Wednesday for a two-day visit in response to an invitation from French President Emmanuel Macron.
He added France supports the stability and territorial integrity of Iraq, noting France and others are worried about the situation of the Kurds after the referendum.
Macron insisted on the importance of “national reconciliation and inclusive governance” that includes Kurds, “with whom France maintains close ties.”
Macron called for dialogue between Iraq and the Kurds in the coming weeks, saying dialogue “is the only path”.
He added France would sign a “strategic agreement” with the government of Iraq.
Abadi, for his part, said during the press conference that the Kurdistan independence referendum was “illegal” and that Iraq wants to preserve the sovereignty of the country within the framework of the constitution.
Iraqi Premier added the government of Iraq does not want armed confrontation with the Peshmerga forces, urging the Kurdish forces in the disputed areas to work with the Iraqi security forces under the leadership of the central government.
Kurds held the vote on the referendum despite threats to block it from Iraq, Iran and Turkey, the region’s main link to the outside world. With 30 million ethnic Kurds scattered across the region, mainly in Iraq, Iran, Turkey and Syria, governments fear the spread of separatism to their own Kurdish populations.
According to Abadi’s office, the premier also met with the heads of French oil company Total and defense contractor Thales.
His office said in a statement that in the meeting with Total Chief Executive Patrick Pouyanne, “expressed his desire to expand oil and gas investments in Iraq”, adding that Total wanted to deal with the federal government.
Abadi also met with representatives of Thales, including Chief Executive Patrice Caine, for talks on matters that included arming and equipping Iraqi security forces to help them in the fight against Islamist militants, the statement said.