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Turkey's Erdogan: Iraq Should Avoid Independence Vote

FILE - A member of the Kurdish security forces scans the horizon in Kirkuk, Iraq, from atop a military vehicle flying a flag of the Kurdistan Regional Government, June 14, 2014.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday it was increasingly important that neighboring Iraq remain a unified country and said a planned Kurdish referendum on independence should not go ahead.

Authorities in Kurdish northern Iraq have announced an independence referendum on Sept. 25, and the president of the Kurdistan Regional Government told Reuters last week there could be no turning back on the bid for an independent Kurdish state.

"The importance of Iraq's territorial integrity is increasing by the day," Erdogan told a petroleum conference in Istanbul. "They should refrain from unilateral steps, such as an independence referendum".