Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has once again stressed the importance of preserving Iraq’s national unity and territorial integrity after a controversial independence referendum was held in northern semi-autonomous Kurdistan region.
Zarif made the remarks in the Iraqi city of Sulaymaniyah on Friday on the sidelines of the funeral ceremony for Jalal Talabani, a former Iraqi president and veteran Kurdish leader, who died in Germany on Tuesday at age 83.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran is the lifelong friend of the Iraqi people, including the country’s Kurds,” the top Iranian diplomat said.
He emphasized that Iran does not hold the Kurdish people in Iraq responsible for the “strategic mistakes by some individuals.”
He expressed hope that all in Iraq’s Kurdistan would return to “Mam Jalal” who was the symbol of the country’s unity and territorial integrity.
The Iranian minister said Talabani was a friend of the Islamic Republic and an indefatigable campaigner against former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, adding that he has always fought to protect Iraq’s unity and territorial integrity.
Thousands of mourners gathered in Sulaymaniyah to pay their respects to the former Iraqi president and leader of the country’s Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), who was buried on Friday in the town that was the seat of his political power.
Talabani’s decades-long political carrier saw him playing a key role in Kurdish and national politics. The late Kurdish leader, who became the president of Iraq in 2005, has been hailed as a unifying figure in national politics.
At the end of the funeral ceremony, the Iranian foreign minister left Sulaymaniyah for the holy Iraqi city of Najaf.