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

"Iran, Turkey and Iraq are obliged to take serious and necessary measures", he said in reference to retaliatory measures adopted since Iraqi Kurdistan's disputed September 25 independence referendum.

During his day-long official visit, Erdogan will meet his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to discuss boosting bilateral relations as well as regional and worldwide issues, Xinhua news agency reported.

Iran and Turkey have threatened to join Baghdad in imposing economic sanctions on Iraqi Kurdistan, as the country leaders Hasan Rouhani and Recep Tayyip Erdogan agreed to support not changing Iraq's borders.

The Iraqi government has demanded that the Kurdish leadership cancel the result of the referendum to avoid sanctions, worldwide isolation and possibly a military intervention.

Military cooperation between Iran and Turkey will increase, and the two neighbours will hold joint war games and exchange experiences, Baqeri and Akar said in a joint press conference.

"We do not recognize the illegitimate referendum of the northern Iraqi regional government", said the Turkish top executive, on Wednesday.

Iraq's central government also opposes the vote.

Turkey, a country with a Sunni majority, and Shiite Iran have been on opposite sides of the conflict in Syria, as Tehran supports Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government while Ankara has been seeking to topple him.

The Kurds are the region's fourth largest ethnic group, spread across Iran, Turkey, Syria and Iraq, all of which oppose any moves towards sovereignty.

Rouhani said the two countries will work together to counter the disintegration of Iraq and Syria, and to ease tension in the crisis-hit region. The two countries have held military manoeuvres close to their borders with Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region in recent days to ratchet up the pressure on Kurdish leaders.

Baghdad already has imposed sanctions on Kurdish banks and halted foreign currency transfers to the region, and a flight ban has halted all worldwide flights from servicing the Iraqi Kurdish territory's airports.

But for the first time since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, Turkey's military chief of staff General Hulusi Akar visited Iran on Monday, signaling closer cooperation with an old regional rival.

Erdogan, whose security forces have been embroiled in a decades-long battle with Kurdish separatists in southeast Turkey, repeated his accusation that Israel was behind the Iraqi Kurds' referendum.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on October 4 that Moscow would not interfere in the Kurdish referendum issue.

"Holding the referendum in Iraq's Kurdistan will help the Western-Zionist-Arab front supporting Takfiri terrorism achieve its objectives and is definitely in contradiction to the interests of the Iraqi people, particularly the Kurds", Shamkhani said.

  • Joey Payne