WASHINGTON, July 12 (Xinhua) -- U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden on Saturday discussed with Iraq's Kurdish regional leader about resolving disputes with Baghdad under the leadership of a new central government.
Biden's phone conversation with Masoud Barzani came as relations between the Iraqi government headed by Nuri al-Maliki and the Iraqi Kurdistan region turned for the worse with the Kurdish security forces seizing more oilfields and Kurdish ministers boycotting the cabinet meetings in Baghdad.
Biden and Barzani "agreed on the importance of forming a new Iraqi government as quickly as possible," a key demand from Washington as it is stepping up military efforts to help Baghdad combat the ongoing offensive by militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a splinter group of al-Qaida, the White House said.
"They confirmed that one of the new government's key tasks will be to address long-standing disputes between the central and regional governments consistent with the Iraqi constitution," the White House said in a statement.
It said the pair agreed that "any territorial dispute" arising from the current crisis "must be resolved peacefully" in full consultation with all communities.
The Kurds, who took control of the disputed areas adjacent to the country's northern region including Kirkuk soon after ISIL fighters started its offensive in early June, took two major oilfields in Kirkuk and Bay Hassan on Friday.
Kurdish ministers refused to attend cabinet meetings on Thursday in protest against remarks made by al-Maliki in which he accused the Kurdish self-autonomous region of being a "base for terrorism."
Barzani has declared his region's intention to call for a referendum on independence, a move opposed by Washington.