By Baris Gundogan
Turkish Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar and his Iraqi counterpart held talks Saturday on the planned referendum in northern Iraq's Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) set to be held on Monday.
Meeting in the Turkish capital Ankara, Akar and Iraqi Army Chief of Staff Gen. Othman al-Ghanimi reiterated the importance of preserving Iraq’s territorial integrity and political unity, and the joint fight against terror organizations, particularly Daesh and the PKK, according to a statement released by the Turkish General Staff.
They also exchanged views on maintaining effective cooperation on border security and safeguarding the region's security and stability, the statement added.
The non-binding referendum will see Iraqis in KRG-controlled areas -- and in a handful of territories disputed between Erbil and Baghdad -- vote on whether to declare full independence from Iraq.
Along with Baghdad, Turkey, the U.S., Iran, and the UN have all spoken out against the poll, saying it will only distract from the ongoing fight against Daesh and further destabilize the region.
Iraq’s central government has threatened to intervene militarily if the vote leads to violence.
The KRG’s leader, Masoud Barzani, has said a Yes vote would not result in an automatic declaration of independence but would simply lead to further negotiations with Baghdad.