Iraq lifts ban on worldwide flights to Kurdish airports

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Northern Iraq's Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) has agreed to relinquish the right to operate and oversee banks in the region, the governor of Iraq's central bank said Tuesday.

He also said that a new security directorate will be established to protect the airports in the Kurdish region and it will be under command and control of the federal Interior Ministry.

The ban on worldwide flights was part of sanctions imposed on the Kurdistan Region after it conducted a referendum in September on Kurdish independence in defiance of Baghdad's position, Reuters said.

The passports and national ID offices and the employees at the airports of Erbil and Sulaimaniyah will also be linked to the federal Interior Ministry, it added. "We hope more significant steps will be taken".

The formal lifting of the blockade will take place in the next few days, Abadi's spokesman Saad al-Hadithi told the news agency Agence France-Presse.

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. The Iraqi parliament recently approved the 2018 budget in the absence of Kurdish MPs, who boycotted the meeting in protest at the cut in finances allocated to the region.

The ban was part of a series of penalties imposed on the Kurds to quash the poll.

The Kurdish independence vote last September, though non-binding, was held across the autonomous region's three provinces as well as in some disputed territories controlled by Iraqi Kurdish security forces but claimed by Baghdad.