MİDDLE EAST

Erdoğan to meet opposition leaders over Northern Iraq

Turkish PM Binali Yıldırım calls on Kurdish Regional Government to work with Baghdad

Anadolu Agency

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will meet Turkish opposition leaders this coming week over the Kurdish Regional Government's (KRG) illegitimate referendum in Northern Iraq.

Responding to journalists' questions after delivering the opening speech at the Turkish parliament's third legislative session on Sunday, Erdogan said he would meet with leaders of the Republican People's Party (CHP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).

''I will meet with [ MHP's Devlet] Bahceli on Thursday,'' said Erdogan. ''After that, according to circumstances, I will take the opinion of [CHP's Kemal] Kilicdaroglu ''

Erdogan added that he would form an opinion on the illegitimate referendum after the meetings.

Monday's illegitimate poll saw Iraqis in KRG-controlled areas -- and in a handful of territories disputed between Erbil and Baghdad, including ethnically mixed Kirkuk and Mosul -- vote on whether or not to declare independence from Iraq's central government.

Prime Minister Binali Yildirim also spoke to journalists at the parliament and called on the KRG to work with the Iraqi central government to find a solution to the crisis in the region.

He said: ''It is clear what to do. They should come together with the Iraqi government and they should guarantee the rights of Northern Iraq's administration.''

Erdogan's Iran visit

Yildirim added that Turkey would support such diplomatic contacts.''So that this issue is smoothed over,''he added.

According to preliminary figures released by the KRG, almost 93 percent of voters cast ballots in favor of independence from Baghdad.

The illegitimate referendum in northern Iraq had faced sharp opposition from most regional and international actors, many of whom had warned that the poll would further destabilize the Middle East.

Yildirim also addressed the Catalan independence referendum, saying Turkey was against it.

''It is normal that we are against it because we are also against the referendum in northern Iraq,'' he said.

Tension between Madrid and Barcelona has risen because of a proposed independence referendum on Sunday, which has been deemed illegal by Spanish courts.

If Catalans vote Yes for independence, which is expected as No voters are boycotting the vote for the most part, the pro-separatist Catalan government has said it will declare independence if they consider the vote valid.
The Spanish government remains firm that this will not be a legitimate vote no matter what happens.

President Erdogan also addressed his one-day oficial visit to Iran on Oct. 4.

Noting that Turkish Chief of General Staff Hulusi Akar had gone to Iran before his visit, Erdogan said he would discuss the KRG's illegitimate referendum with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

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