Iraqi prime minister reopens Kurdish airports to global flights

Iraqi prime minister reopens Kurdish airports to international flights

Iraqi PM reopens Kurdistan airports to international flights

The announcement comes some six months after the airports were initially shut to worldwide flights following a controversial referendum vote in northern Iraq's self-ruled Kurdish region that overwhelmingly backed independence from Baghdad.

Iraq has lifted the ban on global flights to the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Region's airports, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said on Tuesday.

Al-Abadi described the move as "a gift to the people of Kurdistan", during a meeting aired on Iraqi state television and added that the central government would also release salaries for government employees in the Kurdish region ahead of the celebration of the Kurdish new year later this month.

Since the air ban was enforced, all Kurdistan-bound global flights have been rerouted to Baghdad, which has also imposed entry visas to foreigners wishing to visit the Kurdistan region.

He said airports in the Kurdish region will be under the command of the Federal Ministry of Interior.

Soon after the decree was issued, a legal advisor to Iraq's President Fuad Masum, said Masum was refusing to approve the budget.

Iraq's Parliament approved the country's controversial 2018 budget bill in the absence of Kurdish politicians, who boycotted the session.

The Kurds, however, are not willing to accept anything less than a 17-percent share, saying there has not been a census in Iraq since 1987.

In a previous draft the KRG portion was set at 12.67 percent, which is how much of Iraq's population Baghdad says the provinces in Kurdistan make up.

However, he has the authority guaranteed by Iraq's constitution to ratify all laws passed by parliament and can return draft laws to parliament.

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