October 20, 2017 / 12:16 PM / a year ago

Baghdad must show restraint, respect Kurdish rights, France says

PARIS, Oct 20 (Reuters) - France on Friday called on Iraq’s central government to show restraint after taking control of the last district in the oil-rich province of Kirkuk and said Baghdad should take the rights of Kurds fully into account.

Iraqi forces are seeking to reestablish Baghdad’s authority over territory which the Kurdish forces occupied outside the official boundaries of their autonomous region, mostly seized since 2014 in the course of the war on Islamic State militants.

“We ask the federal government to show restraint and fully respect the rights of the Kurds,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Agnes Romatet-Espagne told reporters.

Tens of thousands of Kurds have fled Kirkuk and Tuz to the two main cities of the Kurdish autonomous region, Erbil and Sulaimaniya, according to Kurdish officials.

The United Nations expressed concern on Thursday at reports of forced displacement and destruction of Kurdish homes and businesses, mainly in Tuz.

Romatet-Espagne said the Kurds also needed to accept a dialogue with Baghdad within the framework of the constitution. (Reporting by John Irish; Editing by Richard Balmforth)

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