TURKEY tr-diplomacy

Iraq, Turkey agree to open more border gates

BAGHDAD - From wire dispatches | 10/15/2009 12:00:00 AM |

The Turkish PM is visiting Baghdad to sign a raft of agreements aimed at boosting economic and political ties between the neighbors.

Turkey and Iraq have decided to increase the number of their border gates, Turkish news channels reported Thursday.

The decision came during Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s visit to Iraq on Thursday. He went to Baghdad to sign a number of agreements aimed at boosting economic and political ties between the countries.

There is currently one border gate connecting the two countries: the Habur border gate in northern Iraq, which is under the control of the Regional Kurdish Administration. 

In the Iraqi capital, the prime minister spoke to his Iraqi counterpart Nouri al-Maliki, Agence France-Presse quoted Iraq's government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh as saying.

About 50 agreements will be signed between the two countries during Erdoğan’s visit. Erdoğan was accompanied by nine of his ministers.

Erdoğan was expected to sign an agreement to help deliver Iraqi gas to European markets, according to documents distributed to reporters accompanying the Turkish delegation.

The visit aims to enhance “economic integration with Iraq with a basic aim of high-level strategic cooperation,” Erdoğan told reporters before departing for Baghdad, according to a report by Bloomberg.

The two nations will also discuss cooperation against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, Prime Minister Erdoğan said. He urged European countries to do more to combat drug smuggling by the PKK.

In September, delegations from the two countries, led by the foreign ministers, held two-day talks in Istanbul to prepare the ground for Erdoğan's visit and negotiate the accords to be signed. Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said the objective was to “secure a genuine economic integration on the highest possible level” between the two neighbors.

Gas from Iraq may help fill the Nabucco pipeline, a project intended to carry fuel from the Caspian region via Turkey to Europe.

Iraq may contribute about 8 billion cubic meters of gas to Nabucco, or more than a quarter of the total volume, said Reinhard Mitschek, an executive at the OMV AG-led pipeline venture on Oct. 1. Construction of Nabucco may begin in 2011.

Iraq is Turkey’s second biggest export market outside Europe, receiving $3.4 billion-net worth of goods in the first eight months of this year, a jump of 48 percent from the same period of 2008, according to Turkey’s statistics office.



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