TEHRAN (Press Shia) – Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Abadi reiterated Baghdad’s stance on a planned independence referendum in the Arab country’s autonomous Kurdistan Region, saying the move by the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) is “illegal”.

Speaking to reporters in a press conference on Wednesday, Abadi underlined that the Kurdistan Region is part of Iraq, adding, “It will be to the benefit of Kurds to remain in Iraq.”

He further said the forthcoming independence referendum in the Kurdistan Region would be “an illegal move”.

Masoud Barzani, the president of the KRG, has recently announced that the vote should be held in due time.

Officials in Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish Region announced that the northern territory will hold the referendum on September 25.

The referendum on whether to secede from Iraq is planned to be held in the three governorates that make up the Kurdish region and in the areas that are disputed by the Kurdish and Iraqi governments but are currently under Kurdish military control.

The disputed areas include the key oil-rich province of Kirkuk.

Iran has voiced opposition to the plan, reiterating its policy of supporting Iraq’s territorial integrity.

In June, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi said, “The Islamic Republic of Iran’s principled and clear stance is supporting Iraq’s territorial integrity and coherence.”

“The Kurdistan Region is part of the Republic of Iraq,” he underlined.

The spokesman warned that unilateral decisions which are out of step with Iraq’s national and legal norms would only result in new problems in the Arab country, particularly in the current complicated situation in the region and given hostile attempts to drag out instability in Iraq.

“A united, stable and democratic Iraq would guarantee the interests of all people of that country from every sect and religion,” Qassemi added.

The Iranian diplomat also stressed that any disagreement between Erbil and Baghdad should be settled through dialogue, national compromise and with respect for the Iraqi constitution.