Tehran to Kurdish PM: Security of Iraqi Kurdistan is of High Significance for Iran

Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani emphasized continued “brotherly ties” and stressed the significance of the Kurdistan Region’s security in a meeting with KRG Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani in Tehran, Kurdish media network Rudaw reports.

“We have had close and brotherly ties with our Kurdish brothers and will continue to have such ties. The security of Iraqi Kurdistan is of high significance for us,” Iranian state-run Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) quoted Larijani as saying in his meeting with Barzani on Sunday.

Larijani hoped to see Erbil-Baghdad ties are mended and a “massive turnout” in the looming Iraqi general elections.

“Iran has a strategic relationship with you and are interested in maintaining it, as it is valuable and should not be damaged by strategic mistake,” Larijani told the leader of the KRG.

Larijani desires the resolution of the Erbil-Baghdad deadlock by the support of the central government and through the constitution, IRNA reported. He went on to say that the KRG’s political policies and economic activities have to be run in coordination with Baghdad.

Barzani is on a two-day visit to Iran and is accompanied by his Deputy Qubad Talabani, Fuad Hussein, the Chief of Staff of the Presidential Office of the Kurdistan Region, and KRG Spokesperson Safin Dizayee.

Barzani also met earlier on Sunday with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Ali Shamkhani, the secretary of the Supreme National Security Council who is also a chancellor to the Islamic Republic’s Supreme Leader.

“Tehran wants the Iraqi people to be unified and believes that all parties must be committed to seeking solutions to problems within the Iraqi constitution,” read a statement from the Iranian presidency.

Rouhani also stressed to Barzani that all the ethnic groups in Iraq, including the Kurds, should have legitimate rights under the constitution and countries have territorial integrity. The president emphasized that all efforts must be made to strengthen intimate relations between the two nations Iran and Iraq.

“Stability and security are a prerequisite for development and prosperity and they should not be undermined by any pretext,” Rouhani stressed.

Rouhani explained that the Kurdistan Region – “as an important part of the country” -has an important role in strengthening Iraq’s stability and security. The president added that Tehran wants Iran and Iraq to be more prosperous and more developed, and this is in the interest of all nations in the region.

A day before the meetings in Tehran, Barzani had visited Baghdad, the KRG PM’s first meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi since the Kurdistan Region held the Iraq-opposed independence referendum.  The KRG premier had praised his first visit to the Iraqi capital as paving the way for the start of a dialogue between the regional and federal governments.

“Our issues with the central government should be solved within the framework of the constitution, as we favor integrity and territorial integrity of Iraq. We want to be part of unified Iraq so that the enemies will not be able to take advantage of such a distance,” Barzani said in Tehran, according to IRNA.

In response to the KRG independence referendum and after a call by the Iraqi government, Iran had temporarily closed down its three official border crossings with the Kurdistan Region before reopening the final two in early January. Barzani thanked Tehran for the move, saying it made the people of the Kurdistan Region happy.

“We visited Tehran to send this message to our people that we will not allow our close bonds with Iranian brothers to be damaged,” he said.

Barzani was looking forward to the development of relations with Tehran.

“We are ready to open a new page in our relations and will make use of past events as experiences for building future,” he added.