Turkish defense minister to visit Iraq: Turkish FM

Turkish defense minister to visit Iraq: Turkish FM

Turkish defense minister to visit Iraq: Turkish FM

Turkish Defense Minister İsmet Yılmaz. DHA Photo

Turkish Defense Minister İsmet Yılmaz will shortly pay a visit to Baghdad upon a consensus reached with Iraqi Foreign Minister İbrahim al-Jaafari, Turkey’s top diplomat has said.

The Iraqi defense minister had been scheduled to visit Turkey, but al-Jaafari preferred to host the Turkish minister over tensions between Ankara and Baghdad, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on Dec. 11, while speaking in a televised interview.

Ankara and Baghdad have been in talks over the recent deployment of Turkish troops near the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, the minister said, adding 1040 Iraqis were still in Bashiqa Camp for advanced training in order to participate in a planned operation against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Mosul. 

“We’ll decide together if we’ll increase or decrease the number of Turkish troops,” he added. 

In a telephone conversation, the Turkish foreign minister asked al-Jaafari if the Iraqi government could provide security for Turkish troops in Mosul, but his Iraqi counterpart said they were not able to provide forces, Çavuşoğlu added.

The row, which has soured relations between the neighboring countries, saw the Turkish ambassador to Iraq summoned on Dec. 5 to demand that Turkey immediately withdraw hundreds of troops deployed in recent days in northern Iraq, near ISIL-controlled Mosul. 

Iraq’s Foreign Ministry said Turkish forces had entered Iraqi territory without the knowledge of Baghdad, which viewed their presence as a “hostile act.”