TURKEY

Turkish PM Yıldırım stresses KRG referendum a matter of national security

TURKISH PM YILDIRIM STRESSES KRG REFERENDUM A MATTER OF NATIONAL SECURITY

Turkish Premier Yıldırım said Saturday that the planned independence referendum of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) was a matter of national security for Turkey.

Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım said on Saturday the referendum for the independence of the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) in northern Iraq was a "matter of national security" for Turkey, according to a source from the prime minister's office.

According to presidential sources, the prime minister underlined that Turkey was ready to take all necessary steps regarding the much-debated referendum expected to be hold on Sept. 25.

"The referendum planned to be held by the [Iraqi Kurdish Regional Government] KRG is a matter of national security for our country," Yıldırım was quoted as saying by the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to restrictions on talking to the media.

"No one should have doubt that we will take all the necessary steps in this matter," said Yıldırım.

The non-binding referendum is planned to see residents in provinces controlled by the KRG vote on independence from Baghdad on Sept. 25.

Ankara repeatedly rejected it, saying the region's stability depends on the unity of Iraq and the maintenance of its territorial integrity.

Meanwhile, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi told the Associated Press that the country was prepared to intervene militarily if the KRG referendum results in violence.

Previously on Friday, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced that Turkey would announce its plan regarding the KRG referendum after the National Security Council and cabinet meetings on Sept. 22, rescheduling the meetings three days before the KRG vote.

Yıldırım also held a phone call earlier on Saturday with his Iraqi counterpart al-Abadi, during which the two leaders vowed cooperation on the cancellation of the KRG referendum.

KRG leader Masoud Barzani announced Friday the planned date for the referendum, despite strong objections from Ankara, Baghdad and Tehran, in addition to disapproval by the U.S. and Russia.

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