Iraqi Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani delayed Saturday a scheduled news conference on a controversial independence referendum he has called for next week as international pressure mounts for a postponement.
There has been uncertainty about whether the vote will go ahead on Monday as Iraq's key allies the United States and Iran, as well as powerful neighbor Turkey, have stepped up their opposition.
"The news conference will take place on Sunday and the time and venue will be announced later," Barzani's office said without elaborating.
On Friday, Barzani insisted that the vote would be held as planned, despite a warning from the UN Security Council that it was "potentially destabilizing."
"The referendum is no longer in my hands, nor is it in those of the [political] parties -- it is in your hands," Barzani told a large crowd at a football stadium in Irbil, capital of the autonomous Kurdish region.
But behind the scenes negotiations are still taking place aimed at persuading Barzani to postpone any referendum, officials close to the discussions said.
Iran and Turkey both have sizeable Kurdish populations of their own and fear the vote will stoke separatist aspirations at home.
The federal government in Baghdad is also opposed to the referendum, which it has called unconstitutional.
Source: News Agencies, Edited by website team