ISTANBUL, Sept. 17 (Xinhua) — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday reiterated his opposition to an upcoming referendum on independence by the Iraqi Kurds, saying Ankara and Baghdad are aiming to preserve Iraq’s territorial integrity.
“We share a 350-kilometer-long border with them, our kin and coreligionists live there and in reality we are the members of the same civilization,” Erdogan told reporters in Istanbul prior to his departure for the United States.
“But if you take any step against that understanding we cannot just let you proceed,” he spoke of the intention of Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government to press ahead with the vote on independence on Sept. 25.
A day earlier, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said his government is prepared to intervene militarily if the referendum results in violence.
Erdogan said he is going to meet with al-Abadi in the U.S. and discuss the issue in details.
On Friday, the Turkish leader called on the Iraqi Kurds to cancel the planned vote, noting Ankara will announce its official position on the issue after Turkey’s National Security Council and cabinet meet on Sept. 22.
Turkey has been battling against an insurgency by its own Kurds over the past three decades.