Turkey and Iraq look to repair ties

Turkey and Iraq look to repair ties

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Turkey and Iraq look to repair ties

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu (L) met with his Iraqi counterpart Zebari in Geneva. AA photo

Ankara and Baghdad are looking to bury their hatchet, with the latter’s foreign minister expected to pay a visit to Turkey later this month to help smooth over the neighbors’ heretofore strained relations.

Hoshyar Zebari’s visit, scheduled for late October, has come in the wake of a message from Iraqi Parliamentary Speaker Osama al-Nujayfi noting Baghdad’s wish to normalize ties with Ankara.

Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and his Iraqi counterpart had a meeting in Geneva on Sept. 25 during which both ministers expressed “eagerness and determination” to mend relations, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Levent Gümrükçü said yesterday.

Undersecretary of Turkish Foreign Ministry Feridun Sinirlioğlu met his counterpart twice, in April and July, to search for ground for rapprochement between Baghdad and Ankara after ties became strained following Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s accusation that Turkey was interfering in Iraq’s internal affairs.

Tensions between the two countries soured significantly in the recent past due to oil agreements Turkey signed with the Kurdish administration without the consent of the Iraqi government.

President Abdullah Gül also recently met with Iraqi Vice President Hudayr al-Huzai in New York on the sidelines of U.N. General Assembly meetings. 

Iran’s new foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, is also expected to visit Turkey in October.

‘Turkey does not support any radical group in Syria’

Gümrükçü also sought to dismiss widespread allegations that Turkey was supporting radical groups in Syria, adding that Ankara also did not permit anyone to give support to such groups through Turkey.

His remark came in reply to claims that Turkish youngsters have joined al-Qaida-linked extremists in Syria and have been trained by militants in the fight against Damascus. Kurdish groups have also claimed that Turkey has aided and abetted the activities of the al-Qaeda-linked group al-Nusra in Syria.

Davutoğlu will also pay an official visit to Greece in the near future for preparation talks ahead of a high-level cooperation summit between the two countries, Gümrükçü added.