Turkey's Erdogan to Discuss Kurdish Referendum with Iraqi PM

Turkey's Erdogan to Discuss Kurdish Referendum with Iraqi PM

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Sunday (September 17) he would meet Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi during his visit to the United States this week and discuss their concerns about a referendum on the Kurdistan independence.

Speaking to reporters in Istanbul before departing for New York to attend the U.N. General Assembly, Erdogan said Ankara and Baghdad shared the same view regarding the referendum.

With the largest Kurdish population in the region, Turkey also fears a "Yes" vote would fuel separatism in its southeast, where the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) have waged an insurgency for three decades.

With Masoud Barzani pressing on with the referendum, Erdogan said the Turkish government had brought forward planned national Security Council and cabinet meetings to September 22 and that Turkey would announce its position on the referendum afterwards.

Turkey, the United States and other Western powers have advised Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdish region to cancel the vote, worrying that tensions between Baghdad and Erbil would distract from the war on Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

Kurds are set to hold the referendum on September 25 but Baghdad opposes it, with lawmakers voting to reject it. Iraq's neighbors, Turkey, Iran and Syria, also oppose the referendum, fearing it could fan separatism among their own ethnic Kurdish populations.

The Iraqi Parliament on Tuesday (September 12) voted to reject the referendum on the independence of Kurdistan.