Kurdistan security very important to Iran: Larijani
Iran's Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani says the security of the Iraqi Kurdistan is "very important" to the Islamic Republic, calling on the semi-autonomous region to resolve its issues in cooperation with the central government in Baghdad.
According to Press TV, Larijani told Prime Minister of Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Nechirvan Barzani in Tehran Sunday "We have had and will continue to have a close relationship with our Kurdish brothers."
"We have a strategic relationship with you and want to maintain it. This relationship is valuable, and should not be scarred by strategic mistakes," the Iranian parliament speaker added.
Iran sided with the Iraqi government after a vote on secession on Sept. 25 put Iraq on the brink of disintegration, forcing Baghdad to send troops to restore order to Kurdish held-areas, including the oil-rich city of Kirkuk.
Larijani said the events which transpired recently in the Kurdistan region were "not in the interest of our Kurdish brothers," adding outstanding issues should be resolved with prudence and the help of the central government in Baghdad.
"The strategy of the Islamic Republic of Iran is for the Kurdistan region to have a vibrant, spirited and dynamic existence within the framework of the Iraqi constitution," he said.
"We hope that in the near future, we will see a resolution of the region's disagreements with the central government and in the upcoming parliamentary elections, we will witness your maximum efforts and those of the central government to hold a lively election," Larijani added.
Last week, envoys from both sides met in the Kurdish regional capital Erbil in northern Iraq and discussed issues including security, control over the KRG land borders, airports, the oil industry, customs revenue and river dams.
A statement from the Iraqi cabinet said the meetings were held in an atmosphere of trust and understanding and concluded by formulating a number of recommendations to help resolve the issues.
Barzani said he also traveled to Baghdad where "new paths were opened for dialog between us and the central government."
"The resolution of our problems with the central government should be within the framework of the Iraqi constitution, because we are also seeking the integrity and preservation of the territorial integrity of Iraq," he added.
The differences, however, cannot be settled all in one go and one session, Barzani said, adding the Kurdistan region was ready to discuss outstanding issues according to Grand Ayatollah Seyyed Ali al-Sistani's call for dialog.
Ayatollah Sistani, who is the highest religious authority of the Shia faith in Iraq, has called for "steps to preserve the constitutional rights of our Kurdish brothers” and avoid violence.
"We want to be part of a united Iraq so that the enemies cannot manipulate any gap for their own interest, and we hope that with the help of our friends, we can solve the problems in our way," Barzani said.
Barzani further thanked Iran for the "support it has always accorded to the Iraqi Kurdistan," saying Iran's reopening of the borders had enormously pleased the Kurds.
"This is why we traveled to Iran in order to convey the message that we will never taint the bondage of brotherhood with our Iranian brothers," he said.
For his part, Larijani said Iraq's unity and integrity was contingent upon unity between its Shia and Sunni Muslims, warning against enemy plots to harm it.
Before meeting with Larijani, he met with Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, Ali Shamkhani, and President Hassan Rouhani.