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FILE PHOTO: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks during a news conference to present the outcome of the G20 leaders summit in Hamburg, Germany July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay

(reuters_tickers)

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday it was increasingly important that neighbouring Iraq remain a unified country and said a planned Kurdish referendum on independence should not go ahead.

Authorities in Kurdish northern Iraq have announced an independence referendum on Sept. 25, and the president of the Kurdistan Regional Government told Reuters last week there could be no turning back on the bid for an independent Kurdish state.

"The importance of Iraq's territorial integrity is increasing by the day," Erdogan told a petroleum conference in Istanbul. "They should refrain from unilateral steps, such as an independence referendum".

(Reporting by Ece Toksabay; Writing by Dominic Evans)

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