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Iraqi Kurdish Leader Asks Regional Parliament To Prepare Referendum

The president of Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan region, Masud Barzani, arrives for a session of the regional parliament in Irbil on July 3.

The leader of Iraq's Kurdish region, Masud Barzani, has asked the region's parliament to form a committee to organize a referendum on independence.

Kurdish lawmaker Farhad Sofi said Barzani "asked us to form an independent electoral commission to carry out a referendum in the Kurdistan region and determine the way forward."

Lawmakers said Barzani asked parliament to choose a date for the referendum but did not suggest a timetable for the proposed committee's work.

Barzani has recently said in media interviews that he wants to hold a referendum within months.

Kurdish forces last month took control of the disputed area of Kirkuk as Sunni militants swept northern Iraq.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said on July 2 that he rejected statements by the Kurdish regional government that it will maintain control of disputed territory.

Based on reporting by Reuters and AFP