Iraq's Kurds will maintain their plan to hold a referendum on independence on 25 September, despite a U.S. request to postpone it, a high-ranking Kurdish official told Reuters on Saturday.
"The date is standing, 25 September, no change," said Hoshyar Zebari, a close adviser to Kurdistan Regional Government President Massoud Barzani, commenting on the request communicated by U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
However, the office of KRG President Masoud Barzani had earlier signalled that other options instead of the referendum could be considered. "On the issue of the postponement of the referendum, the President (Barzani) stated that the people of the Kurdistan Region would expect guarantees and alternatives for their future," said the statement issued by the Kurdish presidency after Tillerson's call, giving no further details on the Kurdish leader's reaction to the U.S. request.
The U.S. State Department said in June it was concerned that the referendum will distract from "more urgent priorities" such as the defeat of Islamic State militants.