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French President Emmanuel Macron backs Iraq talks after Kurdish concessions

President Emmanuel Macron has called on the Iraqi government to engage in "constructive national dialogue" after his meeting with Iraqi Kurd leaders. Macron vowed to preserve the rights of the Kurdish people.

After meeting with Nechirvan Barzani, prime minister of Iraq's Kurdish region, in Paris, President Emmanuel Macron said he would "do anything" to help preserve Iraq's unity and Kurdish rights through new negotiations.

The Kurdish leader's visit to France comes amid a political and military standoff between Iraq's northern Kurdish region and Baghdad over an independence vote in September, in which the Kurds overwhelmingly voted for an independent state.

Following the referendum, Baghdad seized control of disputed areas held by the Kurds and imposed a flight ban on the region.

Read more: Iraq 'not interested' in reaching deal, say Kurds

Cooperation and concessions

"We informed President Macron that the government of the Kurdistan region is ready to cooperate with the federal government concerning the border checkpoints, in line with the Iraqi constitution," Barzani said on Saturday.

Read more: Kurdish offer — Freeze independence referendum results, ceasefire and dialogue

Macron hailed the Kurdish efforts to ease tensions by making concessions to the Iraqi government, and called for "all militias" to be dismantled to ease tensions.

"I am convinced that on this basis a constructive dialogue can begin," he said, adding that he trusted the Kurdish leaders.

"And I trust [Iraqi] Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to understand what is in the interests of Iraq and of Iraqi unity."

Macron said France would "do everything in the coming weeks and months, not just to make sure this dialogue starts, but to ensure that it is successful and that it permits the integrity of Iraq and stability inside Iraq."

Watch video 04:09

Dreaming of an independent Kurdistan

shs/cmk (dpa, AP)

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