A leading official in the putative state of Kurdistan has said statehood remains the primary objective of an upcoming independence referendum.
The Kurdish people in Iraq are due to hold a referendum this summer on whether to secede and become an entirely new state.
The vote will take place in the three provinces which make up the autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan, as well as neighbouring areas which are under Kurdish military control.
Kurdistan is a vast and amorphous geographical area, which also includes swathes of Turkey, Syria and Iran. The Kurdish people have never had their own nation-state, despite years of separatist pressure.
The structure of the vote in Iraqi Kurdistan is similar to the UK Brexit referendum - should the people vote for independence, there will be a formal notification of leaving, followed by a two-year negotiation period.
Speaking to the press, Hoshyar Zebari - who is a senior member of the ruling Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) - insisted the process was not automatic, and would take time to set up an independent state.
The Kurdish people have garnered international praise for their fight against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, particularly the all-female battalions of the YPJ. However the Kurds remain locked in a bitter struggle with the Turkish government, and the PKK political party, which supports the rights of Kurdish people in Turkey, is widely proscribed.