Iraqi PM to pay a visit to discuss trade, PKK

Iraqi PM to pay a visit to discuss trade, PKK

Iraqi PM to pay a visit to discuss trade, PKK

Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi will pay a visit to Turkey and meet with President Tayyip Erdoğan on May 15.

The two leaders plan to discuss the PKK influence in the Sinjar region of Iraq, the new border crossing to be established between the two countries, increasing the trade volume of $10 billion to over $20 billion and water issues.

Turkish and Iraqi officials will discuss measures to enhance the trade volume between the two neighbors.

Following the visit of the Iraqi prime minister, a Turkish delegation chaired by Trade Minister Ruhsar Pekcan will attend the Turkey-Iraq Business Forum in Baghdad. Iraq is committed to maintaining balanced bilateral relations with Turkey and other neighboring countries in the region, the Iraqi parliament speaker said on April 20.

 “We have very good relations and promising economic projects with Turkey,” Mohammed al-Halbusi said in a speech to a Baghdad summit of parliament heads of neighboring countries.

Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu held meetings in Baghdad, Basra and Arbil last month.  On April 28, Çavuşoğlu met with his Iraqi counterpart, Mohamed Ali al-Hakim, and Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi as part of his official two-day visit to the country. 

The minister reiterated Turkey’s will for opening a new border crossing with Iraq. “Opening a new border crossing in Ovaköy will be beneficial for both Baghdad and the Iraqi Kurdish Regional Government [KRG],” Çavuşoğlu said on his Twitter account.

Ankara and Baghdad have been discussing opening alternative gates for more than a decade, including in Ovaköy, but parties have yet to take any steps. The Habur border gate, through which 1.6 million vehicles pass annually, has not been able to meet the demands for trade between Iraq and Turkey.

In a sign to further enhance ties, the Iraqi government had given permission to Turkey to reopen general consulates in Mosul and Basra, as well as to launch a consulate in Najaf. Minister Çavuşoğlu said opening a consulate in Kırkuk is also on the agenda.

Turkey’s will to increase its energy supplies from Iraq is expected to be another agenda item during talks in Ankara. The visit by the Iraqi prime minister comes after the United States announced that it is ending an exception from unilateral sanctions for a number of countries importing oil from Iran, including Turkey.

Turkey is expected to rebalance its oil supplies after the United States announced it would end the waivers that have allowed Turkey to import from Iran despite sanctions. Iraq is one of Turkey’s leading suppliers of crude oil where Ankara compensates for the Iranian product.

Turkey’s ongoing operation against PKK terror in northern Iraq will be another issue. Turkey mounts pressure on Iraq to intensify its fight against the PKK in its territories and to cooperate with the Turkish military to this end in northern Iraq, where the illegal group has its main headquarters and training camps.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will visit Iraq as part of the fourth High-Level Strategic Cooperation Council meeting towards the end of this year.