Iran, Turkey Vow to Halt Kurds' Secession from Iraq

Iran, Turkey Vow to Halt Kurds' Secession from Iraq

The presidents of Iran and Turkey vowed during talks in Tehran on Wednesday (October 4) to work closely together to prevent the disintegration of Iraq and Syria and to oppose the Kurds' drive for independence.

Shia Muslim Iran and mainly Sunni Muslim Turkey, a NATO member, have traditionally had cool relations but both have been alarmed by the Kurdistan Region's vote for independence in a Sept. 25 referendum, fearing it will stoke separatism among their own Kurdish populations.

During a joint news conference with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Iran and Turkey will not accept "any changes in the geographical borders under any circumstances".

Erdogan said Turkey will take stronger steps in retaliation for the Iraqi Kurdish referendum last week, having already taken some measures in coordination with the Iraqi central government and Iran.

Erdogan said the referendum had no legitimacy and had only been recognized by Israel.

He also said the goal of raising Turkish-Iranian trade volume to $30 billion from $10 billion remained on the agenda and the two countries would conduct trade in their own currencies to limit foreign exchange pressures.

Kurds held the vote on the referendum despite threats to block it from Iraq, Iran and Turkey, the region's main link to the outside world. With 30 million ethnic Kurds scattered across the region, mainly in Iraq, Iran, Turkey and Syria, governments fear the spread of separatism to their own Kurdish populations.