The leader of Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region, Masud Barzani, says he plans to hold an independence referendum within months.
In an interview with the BBC, Barzani said the time is right for a vote as Iraq is already effectively partioned.
"We will hold a referendum in Kurdistan and we will respect and be bound by the decision of our people and hope that others will do likewise," Barzani said.
Barzani said he could not set a date yet "but definitely it's a question of months."
He said the final decision would be left to the Kurdish regional parliament.
Barzani's comments come as Sunni fighters from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) have swept across large parts of northern and western Iraq in June and declared a "caliphate" in territories seized across Iraq and Syria.
Based on reporting by the BBC and AFP
Copyright (c) 2011. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036. www.rferl.org
Original headline: Barzani Says Iraqi Kurds To Vote On Independence Within 'Months'
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