Iran, Turkey presidents oppose Kurdish state, 'will ensure' borders remain unchanged

Iran and Turkey should prevent Iraq's Kurdistan region from declaring independence, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Wednesday after meeting Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan in Tehran, state TV reported.

Turkish President Erdogan said on Sunday that the roadmap Turkey and Iran are expected to follow in response to the controversial referendum and other regional developments will take shape after his visit to Tehran.

He said the Kurdish referendum and plan to split from Iraq is part of a "foreign sectarian plot".

Iran and Turkey have been rivals for centuries but have recently sought to forge a pragmatic relationship, with the Islamic republic strongly supporting Erdogan after last year's failed coup.

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The two governments fear the secession of Iraq's Kurds would stoke separatist sentiment among their own large Kurdish minorities and are eager to work together with the federal government in Baghdad to block it. Separately, Iraq also announced joint military exercises with Iran.

Iran and Turkey, a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation member, overwhelmingly opposed the non-binding referendum vote, over fears the move could ignite independence movements by Kurdish populations in their own countries.

Iraq's central government also opposes the vote.

On September 25, voters in the semi-autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq voted overwhelmingly to back a split from Baghdad, setting off a regional crisis.

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The two countries, which enjoy a trade volume of about 11 billion USA dollars per year, aim to raise the figure to 30 billion in the future. Some of the accused said they did not believe the court could deliver a fair verdict, saying it was under political pressure.

"We share a common stance on not accepting the [KRG] referendum and Iraq's territorial integrity", the Iranian chief of staff said, adding that the sharing of military experience and training will be established between the two countries.

On the economic front, Rouhani and Erdogan underlined the goal of tripling two-way trade to $30 billion in 2018, to be processed in their own currencies, easing the pressure on Iran whose banking sector is subject to United States sanctions. In return, Baqeri's Turkish counterpart Hulusi Akar arrived in Iran for security talks on Sunday, days ahead of Erdogan's high-profile visit.

In the same time-frame, the amount imported from Iraq dropped by 20%, as Iran replaces Iraq as the top supplier to Turkey.

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