Iraqi PM says central government and Kurds reach preliminary deal for disputed northern areas

BAGHDAD – Iraq’s prime minister says Baghdad and Kurdish officials have reached a preliminary agreement to allow inhabitants of disputed northern areas to oversee their own security.

Speaking on Thursday, Nouri al-Maliki said Baghdad and leaders of the Kurds’ self-ruled autonomous region have agreed that units will be formed from local ethnic and sectarian groups to replace Iraqi and Kurdish forces currently in the disputed areas, which are claimed by Arabs, Turkomen and Kurds.

Tension between Baghdad and the Kurds has increased over the last two months following a decision by al-Maliki to form a new military command to oversee security forces bordering the self-ruled Kurdish region. The move was deemed unconstitutional by the Kurds.