Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani on Sunday called for boosting relations with the Iraqi Kurdish region as part of a united Iraq, Iranian media reported, after ties were strained over an independence referendum in the area last year.

The call came during a visit by the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region’s Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani, the first such high-level trip to Iran since last year’s Kurdish independence referendum which Iran strongly opposed.

The Kurdish referendum on Sept. 25, which produced an overwhelming “Yes” for independence, angered Iraq’s central government and neighbours Iran and Turkey, which have their own restive Kurdish minorities.

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