ANKARA - Turkish President Abdullah Gul has called on the representatives of Kirkuk's ethnic groups to convene in Ankara, an Iraqi Shi'ite Turkmen MP from the United Iraqi Alliance said on Monday.
The fate of Kirkuk, an ancient city that was once part of the Ottoman Empire, is one of the most divisive issues in Iraq. Control over Kirkuk, a mixed city of Arabs, Kurds and Turkmen, and the surrounding oil wealth, is in dispute between the city's three ethnic groups.
"The meeting of the representatives of the Iraqi components is related with their approval and willingness to discuss this sensitive issue on a round table with a Turkish readiness to offer the circumstances of succeeding the meeting," Abbas al-Bayati told Baghdad-based al-Sabah newspaper.
Turkey sees the status of Kirkuk as a major concern, and thinks a hurried referendum, which has already been postponed, might trigger ethnic clashes in the city.
Provincial elections will be held in Iraq on Jan. 31.
The regional Kurdish administration will not be holding provincial elections with the rest of Iraq. Nor will the disputed oil province of Kirkuk, where the vote was postponed indefinitely as ethnic groups there fail to agree on a power-sharing formula.