September 29, 2017 / 8:12 PM / 10 months ago

Iraq's Abadi accepts Macron invitation to come to discuss Kurds - Elysee source

TALLINN (Reuters) - Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi accepted an invitation from French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday to come to Paris on Oct. 5 for talks on the Kurdish independence referendum, a source in Macron’s office said.

France's President Emmanuel Macron attends the European Union Tallinn Digital Summit in Tallinn, Estonia, September 29, 2017. REUTERS/Ints Kalnins

Macron had offered to help ease tensions between Baghdad and the Kurdistan Regional Government over Monday’s referendum, which produced an overwhelming vote in favour of secession from Iraq, and had warned that any further escalation should be avoided. Baghdad has closed Kurdish airspace and vowed to take control of the autonomous region’s external borders.

A still image taken from a video shows Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi speaking as he makes a statement in Baghdad, Iraq September 24, 2017. REUTERS/via Reuters TV

In a statement after a telephone call with Abadi, Macron’s office said he had invited Abadi to Paris, but warned that the two sides should remain united in their priority to defeat Islamic State and stabilise Iraq.

“All escalation should be avoided,” Macron said in the statement.

“The president ... recalled the importance of preserving unity and Iraq’s (territorial) integrity while recognising the rights of the Kurdish people,” the statement said. “With the priority to fight Islamic State and the stabilisation of Iraq, Iraqis must remain united.”

Reporting by Marine Pennetier; Writing by John Irish; Editing by Kevin Liffey

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