CAIRO, Sept. 10 (Xinhua) -- Arab League (AL) Secretary General Ahmed Aboul-Gheit on Sunday called for direct dialogue between Iraqi government and the Kurdish region to settle their existing differences.
The dialogue would be based on what is stated in the Iraqi constitution on relations between the two sides, the Egyptian official news agency MENA reported, quoting a statement issued by Aboul-Gheit's spokesman Mahmoud Afifi.
Aboul-Gheit sensed the widening gap in trust between the Iraqi government and the autonomous Kurdish region following his meetings with officials from the two sides during his visit to Iraq on Saturday, the statement said.
While in Iraq, Aboul-Gheit met with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi in Baghdad and Kurdish President Masoud Barzani in Erbil.
The AL chief's visit to Iraq came ahead of the scheduled independence referendum in the Kurdish region on Sept. 25.
He urged the two sides to resolve all disputes to reach common ground and full understanding that could preserve the unity of Iraq and its stability.
On June 7, Barzani announced his intention to hold a referendum on the independence of the Kurdish region from Iraq on Sept. 25, a step which has been criticized by Baghdad as "unconstitutional and illegal."
The referendum is opposed by other countries including the Iraqi neighbors of Iran and Turkey, which both have sizeable Kurdish minorities of their own.