WASHINGTON, July 3 (Xinhua) -- The White House on Thursday voiced opposition to a call for referendum on independence by the leader of Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region.
The call from Massud Barzani, president of the Kurdish region in northern Iraq, came as Sunni militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) are continuing their offensive after seizing a large part of Iraq's northern and western territories and declaring the establishment of an Islamic caliphate in areas under their control in both Iraq and Syria.
Barzani was reportedly telling the Kurdish regional parliament on Thursday to make preparations "to organize a referendum on the right of self-determination."
"The fact is that we continue to believe that Iraq is stronger if it's united," White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters at a daily news briefing.
"That's why the United States continues to support an Iraq that is democratic, pluralistic and unified," he said. "And we're going to continue to urge all parties in Iraq to continue working together toward that objective."
Washington, while stepping up military aid to the Iraqi government headed by Nuri al-Maliki, is pressing for an "inclusive " government in the country as part of efforts to combat ISIL's advances.
"The best way for Iraq to confront the threat that's posed by ISIL is to unify the country in the face of that existential threat," Earnest said. "And we think that's in the best interest of all the citizens of Iraq."