The Trump administration urged Kurdish leaders in Iraq to not hold a referendum this month regarding their independence from Iraq, warning that it would distract from defeating the Islamic State.
"The United States does not support the Kurdistan Regional Government's intention to hold a referendum later this month," White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement Friday. "The United States has repeatedly emphasized to the leaders of the Kurdistan Regional Government that the referendum is distracting from efforts to defeat ISIS and stabilize the liberated areas."
Sanders went on to say that any referendum in "disputed areas is particularly provocative and destabilizing."
"We therefore call on the Kurdistan Regional Government to call off the referendum and enter into serious and sustained dialogue with Baghdad, which the United States has repeatedly indicated it is prepared to facilitate," Sanders said.
The parliament of Iraqi Kurdistan voted Friday to move forward with the referendum set for Sept. 25.
The referendum is significant as the U.S. has maintained a friendly relationship with the Kurds as allies fighting terrorism in Iraq and Syria. The Kurds have provided ground troops that have contributed to successes in overthrowing the Islamic State.
Two neighboring countries to Iraq, Turkey and Iran, also oppose the referendum over fears that it could embolden Kurds within their own Kurdish populations to call for independence.