Iraq gov't and Kurdistan agree to defuse military standoff

BAGHDAD - Iraq's government and autonomous Kurdistan on Thursday agreed to defuse a tense standoff between their troops by gradually withdrawing them from disputed territories along their internal border.
Baghdad's Arab-led central government and Kurdistan, embroiled in a dispute over oil and land, both dispatched troops last month in the second military build-up to threaten the country's fragile unity since US troops left a year ago.
A statement from Iraq's President Jalal Talabani, a Kurd who has mediated in past political disputes, said both regions would withdraw troops once local police took over security in disputed areas, helped by local organizations representing ethnic groups.
"Security in these areas will be controlled and run locally by people there as well as local police. After the formation of these local groups, troops will be withdrawn," Prime Minister Nuri al Maliki's media advisor Ali al-Moussawi said.
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