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Iran backs efforts by Iraq, Kurds to resolve dispute
January 22, 2018
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TEHRAN: Iranian officials on Sunday voiced support for efforts to end a dispute in neighbouring Iraq sparked by a Kurdish referendum on independence last year and underscored the need for Iraqi unity.

President Hassan Rouhani and the secretary of the Supreme National Security Council, Ali Shamkhani, made the comments during talks in Tehran with the prime minister of Iraq’s Kurdish autonomous region.

Rouhani told Nechirvan Barzani that Tehran backs “a united Iraq” in which “the legal and legitimate rights” of the Kurdish people are recognised in line with the constitution, the presidency said.

Barzani earlier met Shamkhani who voiced concern over continued cross-borders raids by Iranian Kurdish rebels from Iraq’s Kurdish region.

“We cannot tolerate that counter-revolutionary groups use Kurdish territory to assassinate our soldiers and citizens and return to the Kurdish region, and then take responsibility for these acts in official Kurdish media,” IRNA quoted Shamkani as saying.

Barzani said: The “expansion of ties and cooperation between Iran and the Kurdistan region will not be affected by its opponents’ efforts, and we shall use all our power to prevent security threats against Iran,” IRNA added.

Shamkhani said Tehran “will do everything in its power to support efforts to ease the differences” between Baghdad and the Kurdish regional capital Arbil, official IRNA news agency reported.

“President Rouhani stressed the historical and deep-rooted ties between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Kurds of Iraq, and said all efforts should be made to strengthen the close relations between the two nations of Iran and Iraq,” the state news agency IRNA reported.

Iraq’s Kurds voted overwhelmingly in September to establish their own country but the non-binding vote was deemed illegal by the federal government in Baghdad which took retaliatory measures.

The referendum was also condemned in neighbouring Iran and Turkey.

On Saturday, Barzani met Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al Abadi in Baghdad for the first time since the failed push by the Kurds to secede.

A statement from Abadi’s office said they discussed the “political and security situation and ways of settling disputes.”


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