Iraqi Federal, Kurdish Officials to Discuss Withdrawing Troops From Disputed Region

Posted November 26th, 2012 at 8:30 pm (UTC-5)
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Iraqi officials representing the country's central government and autonomous Kurdish region have pledged to defuse recent tensions between them by discussing ways of withdrawing their troops from a disputed region.

Iraqi military spokesman Dhia al-Wakeel said the federal and Kurdish officials made the pledge Monday, at a Baghdad meeting attended by a senior U.S. military official. He said the participants agreed to set up committees of federal and regional Kurdish security officers to discuss removing troop reinforcements from the disputed northern Iraqi region and returning those forces to their former positions.

Iraqi federal and Kurdish authorities deployed additional troops in the area after a November 16 clash between central government and Kurdish peshmerga forces in the town of Tuz Khormato in Salahuddin province.

The Baghdad central government boosted its troop presence in Salahuddin and the neighboring province of Kirkuk earlier this year as part of a new military command intended to address poor security coordination in the region. That move angered Iraqi Kurdish leaders, who want to incorporate the oil-rich areas into the borders of their autonomous zone.

Earlier Monday, Iraqi Kurdish Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani said dialogue is the only way to resolve the dispute. Federal and Kurdish regional officials plan to discuss the issue again on Tuesday.