Speaker: Iran Siding with Iraqi Kurdistan as before

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Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani praised the age-old relations between the Islamic Republic and the Iraqi Kurdistan, saying that Iran is standing by the Kurdish people as it did in the era of toppled Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

“Today, Kurdistan has been brutally attacked by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) terrorist group and we are now standing by the people in Iraqi Kurdistan as we did during Saddam’s era,” Larijani said in a press conference before his departure from Sulaymaniyah in Southern Kurdistan.

The Iranian parliamentarian said Tehran and Erbil have enjoyed long-time cordial relations.

Elsewhere in his remarks, Larijani described counterterrorism as the most important regional challenge and said the issue topped the agenda of his recent visits to the regional countries, .

Larijani arrived in Iraq on Tuesday as the final destination of his tour of the regional states that took him earlier to Syria and Lebanon.

Earlier in a Friday meeting with the former prime minister of the Iraqi Kurdistan region, Barham Ahmad Salih, in Sulaymaniyah, Larijani had highlighted the importance of close ties between Tehran and Baghdad in foiling the plots hatched by enemies of the two neighboring countries.

“Consolidation of relations between Iran and Iraq could thwart a whole host of plots hatched by the aliens and supporters of terrorism,” Larijani said in the meeting.

During his stay in Iraq, Larijani also held meetings with the leading religious figure Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani in Najaf as well as a number of high-ranking Iraqi officials including parliament speaker Salim al-Jabouri in Baghdad.

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