UN urges Iraq, Kurds to hold talks

UNITED NATIONS - The UN Security Council on Thursday urged the Iraqi government and regional leaders in Kurdistan to set a timetable for talks to end a crisis triggered by last month's Kurdish referendum on independence.
The appeal from the top UN body came after Baghdad dismissed an offer from Iraqi Kurdish leaders to freeze the outcome of the referendum, which delivered a resounding yes to independence, and hold talks.
"Council members noted that the federal and regional governments have both expressed willingness to engage in dialogue," said French Ambassador Francois Delattre, who holds this month's council presidency.
"We encourage them to expeditiously set a timetable to hold these discussions," Delattre told reporters after the meeting.
The council met behind closed doors at the request of France and Sweden to hear a report from UN envoy Jan Kubis on the crisis.
Delattre said council members were concerned by the increased tensions and reports of violence, and were calling on both sides to refrain from using force.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi earlier rejected the Kurdish offer for a freeze and demanded the annulment of the September 25 vote for independence.