US 'does not recognise' Iraq-Kurdish independence referendum
The United States on Friday said it "does not recognise" the Iraqi-Kurdish referendum on independence, calling on all parties to reject the use of force and engage in dialogue.
Iraqi Kurds announced an overwhelming "yes" for independence on Wednesday following a referendum that has incensed Baghdad.
Official results showed that 92.73 percent of voters backed statehood in Monday's non-binding referendum, with turnout estimated at 72.61 percent.
"The vote and the results lack legitimacy and we continue to support a united, federal, democratic and prosperous Iraq," Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in a statement.
"The United States asks all parties, including Iraq's neighbours, to reject unilateral actions and the use of force."
Earlier, the US said it would be willing to help facilitate conversations between Iraqi Kurds and Baghdad in an attempt to ease tensions between the two sides after a controversial Kurdish referendum vote.
The comments from the US come as the last plane left Iraqi Kurdistan on Friday after Baghdad-ordered an international flight ban in retaliation for the independence referendum.
The Kurds have condemned the flight suspension as "collective punishment".
Neighbouring Turkey and Iran also strongly opposed the vote, fearing it would inflame the separatist aspirations of their own sizable Kurdish population.
Ankara has threatened a series of measures including blocking crucial oil exports from the region via Turkey.
The Iraqi defence ministry said on Friday that it plans to take control of the borders of its Kurdistan region "in coordination" with Iran and Turkey, indicating that Iraqi forces would move toward the external border posts controlled by Kurdish authorities from the Iranian and Turkish side.
Iraq's parliament asked Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to send troops to the Kurdish-held region of Kirkuk and take control of its oilfields following the referendum results.
Left without a state of their own when the borders of the Middle East were redrawn after World War I, the Kurds see themselves as the world's largest stateless people.
The non-Arab ethnic group of between 25 and 35 million is spread across Iraq, Iran, Turkey and Syria.