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British PM reaffirms support for united Iraq, urges KRG to respect unity

British Prime Minister Theresa May has reiterated her government’s support for the territorial integrity and unity of Iraq, calling on officials from the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region to protect the Arab country’s national unity.

According to Press TV, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi quoted the 61-year-old British politician as saying in a news conference in Baghdad on Wednesday May “affirmed her support for Iraq’s unity” and called on the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to “respect a united Iraq in all fields.”

She claimed, through a translator, that she wanted to see “a united and inclusive Iraq.”

The Iraqi Kurdistan region held a referendum on secession on September 25 despite strong opposition from the central government in Baghdad, the international community and Iraq’s neighboring countries, especially Turkey and Iran.

Following the vote, Baghdad imposed a ban on direct international flights to the Kurdish region and called for a halt to its independent crude oil sales.

The UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) has called on KRG authorities to abide by a top court ruling that declared the recent secession referendum in northern Iraq unconstitutional.

The UN mission also demanded that Baghdad and Erbil engage in negotiations without delay within the framework of the constitution and discuss issues ranging from the control of borders and the reopening of airports to the federal budget, the payment of salaries and the management of oil exports.

Abadi and May also discussed British investments in Iraq on Wednesday. The British prime minister pledged to provide 20 million pounds ($26.8 million) in support of human rights, and another 30 million pounds ($40.32 million) for stabilization efforts and reforms.

Back in March, Britain agreed to arrange 10 billion pounds in loans to finance infrastructure projects in Iraq over a period of 10 year. The program would only benefit British companies.

“We will continue to support Iraq as a partner in order to enforce security, building, and stability, as well as in training Iraqi forces and efforts to return the displaced,” May pointed out.

Abadi, for his part, praised further expansion of relations between Baghdad and London.

The Iraqi prime minister noted that Britain had helped his country on the issue of internally displaced persons in the wake of the onslaught by Daesh Takfiri terrorists, and the subsequent campaign by Iraqi government forces to dislodge the extremists.

The British government announced in September that there were around 600 British soldiers on the ground in Iraq.

They are primarily involved in training Iraqi security forces in infantry, engineering and combat medical techniques, as well as defusing improvised explosive devices.

Britain reportedly provided over 1,400 military personnel to the so-called US-led coalition against Daesh.