Iraq's Kurds say will boycott Cabinet meetings of al-Maliki's embattled government

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Iraqi men check in at the main army recruiting center as they volunteer for military services in Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, July 9, 2014, after authorities urged Iraqis to help battle insurgents. (AP Photo/Karim Kadim)

BAGHDAD — Iraq's Kurds on Thursday said their politicians will stay away from Cabinet meetings to protest remarks made by embattled Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

The announcement comes a day after al-Maliki accused the largely autonomous Kurdish region in northern Iraq of harboring the Sunni militants who have overrun much of the country. The prime minister provided no evidence, and the Kurds denied the allegations.

Deputy Prime Minister Roz Nouri Shawez, the highest level Kurdish official in the government, told reporters Thursday that "such statements are meant to hide the big security fiasco by blaming others, and we announce our boycott of Cabinet meetings."

Kurds also hold the Cabinet posts for foreign affairs, trade, health and immigration and displacement.

The move is largely symbolic, since the government has continued operating in the past when the Sunni bloc fully withdrew its ministers from the Cabinet. But it underlines the deepening split between al-Maliki and the Kurds.

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