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Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (R) meets with Prime Minister of Iraq's Kurdistan Regional Government Nechirvan Barzani in Tehran on Jan. 21.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (R) meets with Prime Minister of Iraq's Kurdistan Regional Government Nechirvan Barzani in Tehran on Jan. 21.

Iran Supports United, Integrated Iraq

President Rouhani says the Iraqi Kurdistan region is an important part of Iraq and plays a “crucial” role in strengthening the country’s stability

Iran Supports United, Integrated Iraq

Preserving the territorial and political integrity of Iraq is vital for the promotion of peace and stability in the region, says Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.
"The Islamic Republic of Iran always supports a united and integrated Iraq," Rouhani said during a meeting with Prime Minister of Iraq's Kurdistan Regional Government Nechirvan Barzani in Tehran on Sunday.
 People of all ethnicities in regional countries, including Iraq, should achieve their "legitimate" and "legal" rights within the constitutional framework, the president said, in reference to the Kurdish independence referendum on September 25, 2017 that produced an overwhelming 'yes' for independence.
Iraq's Supreme Federal Court ruled one month later that the referendum was unconstitutional and that the results of the vote were void.
 
  Crucial Role
"Stability and security are necessary for development and prosperity, and the stability and security in regional countries should not be allowed to be undermined under any pretext," Rouhani said.
The Iraqi Kurdistan region is an important part of Iraq and plays a "crucial" role in strengthening the country's stability, he added.
The president also called for closer economic cooperation, saying that Tehran is keen to invest in development projects in Iraq's Kurdistan.
Iraq's central government responded to the Kurdish independence referendum with a series of measures.
It seized the Kurdish-held city of Kirkuk and other territory disputed between the Kurds and the central government, according to Reuters. It also banned direct flights to Kurdistan and demanded control over border crossings.
Iran closed its border crossings with the Kurdistan region of Iraq following the vote in favor of independence in the Kurdish area but reopened them later.
The decision came after the Kurdish Regional Government stepped up its efforts to resolve the crisis in relations with Baghdad through dialogue rather than military means.

  Respect for Constitution
In his meeting with Rouhani, Barzani highlighted the importance of Iraq's unity and integrity, saying that the country's constitution must be respected.  
He also appreciated Iran's support for Iraq, particularly Iraqi Kurdistan, in the fight against the self-styled Islamic State terrorist group.
The prime minister assured that his government will never allow anyone to use Iraqi Kurdistan's territory to pose a threat to the Islamic Republic.
He added that bilateral trade should be enhanced, saying that Iranian investors are welcome to help implement economic projects.
Barzani, who was accompanied by a delegation including Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani, also met with Secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani on the same day.

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