The United States on Monday urged Iraq's federal government and Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) institutions to resolve their disagreements after Iraqi Kurdish President Masoud Barzani said he would resign on Wednesday.
"Barzani is a historic figure and courageous leader of his people, most recently in our common fight to destroy ISIS," State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said.
"We call on all Kurdish parties to support the KRG as it works to resolve pending issues over the remainder of its term and prepare for elections in 2018," Nauert added in a statement commending Barzani's decision.
It urged Iraq and the KRG "to work urgently to resolve pending issues under the Iraqi constitution."
The statement appeared to reflect a US belief that the departure of Barzani, whose September 25 independence referendum is widely seen has having backfired, may make it easier for the two main Kurdish factions to work together and to negotiate with the federal government led by Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi, according to Reuters.
In the statement, Nauert stressed a US desire to work with KRG Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani, Masoud Barzani's nephew and a fellow member of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) faction, and with Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani, a member of the other faction, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK).
"A strong KRG within a unified and federal Iraq is essential to its long-term stability and to the enduring defeat of ISIS," she said, whose destruction is a major US policy objective in the region.
Disputes between the KRG and the Baghdad federal government range from the perennial tussle over how to share oil revenues to the control of territory and border crossings.
Suggesting that Barzani's departure may yield greater Kurdish unity and improve the odds of a resolution with Baghdad, a US official said: "We can’t allow this tension to continue. They have to be able to find a way to live together. Now is the time to get them to sit down and try to work things out."
In this context, President Barzani expressed his appreciation to Germany and France and stated that the Kurdistan Region will work towards peacefully negotiating the issues with Baghdad, all in accordance with the Iraqi Constitution.
“However, if Iraq chooses to aggressively approach the issues, then the people of the Kurdistan Region, as well as the Peshmerga forces, will defend Kurdistan and the dignity of the people of the Kurdistan Region.”
He also described the recent military measures by Iraq's forces and militias as illegal and unconstitutional.
This came as he received a German and French diplomatic delegation headed by Germany's ambassador Cyrill Nunn and France's ambassador Bruno Aubert.
During the meeting, Barzani and his two guests spoke of the latest political developments in the Kurdistan Region and the issues between Baghdad and Irbil.
They also spoke of the recent military confrontations, which took place initially in Kirkuk and later in the areas west of the Tigres River.