Turkey urges Iraqi Kurds to call off vote on independence

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Turkey is calling on the head of Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region to cancel a planned referendum on Kurdish independence.

Speaking to reporters Monday following a Cabinet meeting, Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag said the referendum slated for Sept. 25 will add to problems in the conflict-ridden region. Bozdag said: "This referendum is of no benefit to (Kurdish regional President Masoud) Barzani, it is of no benefit to Kurds, it is of no benefit to the people of the region."

Turkey — which has a large Kurdish population and is battling Kurdish rebels — has close ties with Iraq's autonomous region but is strongly opposed to an independent Kurdish state.

The minister said: "I call on Mr. Barzani to call off this referendum."