By Diyar Guldogan
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov Monday called for a "dialogue" between Iraq’s central government in Baghdad and the Erbil-based Kurdish Regional Government (KRG).
Lavrov said in a news conference in Moscow with his Iraqi counterpart Ibrahim al-Jaafari that Russia understood the "aspirations" of the Kurdish people to strenghten their identity.
"However, we believe it is right to implement these aspirations exclusively through dialogue with the government of Iraq, taking fully into account the importance that the Kurdish issue has on a regional scale and the need to avoid additional sources of instability in the region," he added, according to a Russian Foreign Ministry statement.
On Sept. 25, KRG-controlled-held areas -- and several disputed parts of the country -- voted on whether or not to declare independence from the Iraqi state.
According to poll results announced by the KRG, almost 93 percent of those who cast ballots voted in favor of independence.
The illegitimate referendum faced sharp opposition from most regional and international actors (including the U.S., Turkey and Iran), who warned that the poll would distract from Iraq’s fight against terrorism and further destabilize the region.
Lavrov said Moscow hoped there would be no war between Erbil and Baghdad.
"We do not want to impose any decision on them," he added.
He also said the Russian consulate general in Erbil would continue to function.