Iraq's government is demanding that Kurdish leaders arrest the Sunni vice president there before can flee the country.

A statement Sunday by the Interior Ministry says Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi must be handed over for trial in Baghdad.

Al-Hashemi is Iraq's highest-ranking Sunni official. He is accused of running death squads against Shiite pilgrims, government officials and security forces.

Al-Hashemi has denied the charges he says are politically motivated, part of Iraq's Sunni-Shiite conflict.

He staying in the semi-autonomous Kurdish region to avoid an arrest warrant issued in December.

A spokesman for al-Hashemi said Sunday he "has no intention" to leave the Kurdish region.

Three leaders of the Kurdish regional government refused to comment on the demand. They have said before they would not force al-Hashemi to leave.