MOSCOW - Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Monday called for dialogue between the Iraqi Kurdistan and Baghdad, warning that tensions following last month's Kurdish independence referendum should not become "another source of instability."
"We understand the hopes of Kurdish people to strive and strengthen their identity... but it would be right to realise these hopes through dialogue with the Iraqi government," Lavrov said after talks with Iraqi counterpart Ibrahim al-Jaafari.
He said the issue should be addressed "with consideration of the need to avoid creating another source of instability in the region."
Iraqi Kurds on September 25 voted overwhelmingly for independence in a poll set in motion by longtime regional leader Massud Barzani and strongly opposed by Baghdad.
Central government forces last week swept into the oil-rich Kirkuk province, restoring it and Kurdish-held parts of Nineveh and Diyala provinces to Baghdad's control.
"We don't see war yet, and we hope that it won't happen between the Kurds and government troops of Iraq," Lavrov added.
He said Baghdad does not "reject" Kurds, ban their language or destroy their monuments, so "all components" are in place for them to figure out how to "live together in a unified Iraq".
"The sides should decide if they will engage in direct dialogue or if they need some sort of intermediaries," he added.