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Iraq rejects Kurdish offer to 'freeze' independence

Iraq's prime minister has rejected an offer from the Kurdistan Region to "freeze" the result of last month's independence referendum and hold talks. "We won't accept anything but its cancellation and the respect of the constitution," Haider al-Abadi said. The Arab-led central government insists the vote, in which people decisively backed secession, was illegal.

The Kurdish offer came after Mr Abadi ordered the Iraqi military to retake disputed territory held by the Kurds. The operation - which also involved police, special forces and the Popular Mobilisation, a paramilitary force dominated by Iranian-backed Shia militias - sparked clashes that left dozens of people dead and many more injured. On Tuesday night, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) called for an immediate ceasefire to prevent further bloodshed.

The KRG said it was prepared to "freeze the result of the referendum" and "start an open dialogue" with the government in Baghdad "on the basis of the constitution".