1046 GMT August 20, 2018
Speaking on the sidelines of the funeral procession of Talabani in Sulaymaniyah on Friday, Zarif reiterated Tehran’s opposition to the secession vote recently held by Iraq’s semiautonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), Tasnim News Agency reported.
However, he said, “The Islamic Republic of Iran is an everlasting friend of the Iraqi people, including the Kurds of this country, and does not consider the strategic mistakes made by certain individuals as those of the Iraqi Kurdish people.”
He further expressed hope that all sides in the Kurdistan region would return to the same path of the late Talabani, who was the symbol of Iraq’s unity and territorial integrity.
Heading a high-ranking delegation, Zarif arrived in Sulaymaniyah on Friday to participate in the funeral service for the late secretary general of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK).
Former president of Iraq was in a coma when he died in a German hospital on Tuesday after suffering a long-time illness following a brain stroke in 2012.
The 83-year-old Talabani was the first non-Arab president of Iraq, elected in 2005, two years after the US-led invasion which toppled the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.
Talabani was president for nine years until 2014 and widely respected as a mediator between Shias, Sunnis and Kurds.
The Iraqi Kurdistan region went ahead with its plan to hold the referendum on September 25 although Iraq’s neighbors and countries in the Middle East, including Iran and Turkey, had voiced opposition to such a move and supported the Baghdad central government.