Turkey invites Iraqi top commander to Ankara

Turkey invites Iraqi top commander to Ankara

Turkey invites Iraqi top commander to Ankara

AFP photo

Turkey has invited Iraq’s Chief of General Staff Osman al-Ghanimi to Ankara for talks on both anti-terror fight and the status of the Bashiqa camp after Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım’s key visit to Baghdad over the weekend. 

“I have sent him an official letter [of invitation] and told him ‘Let’s come and talk these issues both politically and militarily,’” Defense Minister Fikri Işık told reporters late Jan 9. Al-Ghanimi is also serving as the acting defense minister of Iraq. Işık said it was not certain when this visit will take place. 

Yıldırım, accompanied with Işık and other Turkish ministers, paid a visit to Baghdad and Arbil on Jan. 7 and 8 to mend ties with the Iraqi government over the establishment of the military camp in Bashiqa. Turkey said it will resolve the problem in a friendly way while Iraq asked for an immediate beginning of the withdrawal of Turkish troops. 

According to sources, Turkey’s withdrawal will be possible after Mosul is freed from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) but in the meantime Ankara and Baghdad will talk on the modalities of the process and the future status of the camp. 

Işık said that he met with al-Ghanimi in London on the sidelines of a meeting on the fight against ISIL. “I first extended my invitation to him but he told me there needs to be an official one,” he stressed. The letter was sent to al-Ghanimi after Işık consulted with Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar and Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu.    

Işık underlined again that the protection of Iraq’s territorial integrity is very important to Turkey.