Talking to the Kurdish President Massoud Barzani in Arbil, Kerry asked him to work for a stable, sovereign and unified Iraq.

Barzani blamed Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's "wrong policies" for the violence. He asked him to quit, saying it was "very difficult" to imagine Iraq staying together.

Meanwhile, in an interview, Barzani also reiterated to hold a referendum on independence, enabling the Kurds to decide their own fate.

Analysts say the capture of Kirkuk by Kurds just outside the boundary of their autonomous zone, eliminates their main incentive to remain a part of Iraq.

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