Turkish President Erdoğan to visit Iraq in January

Turkish President Erdoğan to visit Iraq in January

Turkish President Erdoğan to visit Iraq in January

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will pay a visit to Iraq next month in a move to further reinforce recently mended bilateral ties between the two neighboring countries.

“We are of course pleased to rebuild our relations with the Iraqi government in a strong way. We share the same region with Iraq, we share the same destiny. As a country which supports Iraq’s territorial integrity, its political sovereignty in its entirety, we believe that it is useful for Turkey to rebuild these relations in a strong way again,” Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç said late Dec. 29, as he announced that Erdoğan had been planning to visit Baghdad next month.

Recalling that Ankara last week hosted a meeting of the High-Level Strategic Cooperation Council between Ankara and Baghdad under the leadership of the two prime ministers, Ahmet Davutoğlu and Haider al-Abadi, Arınç said Iraq-Turkey relations had “unfortunately lost ground” during the prime ministry of Nouri al-Maliki.

“A positive page has been opened both for us and for them with founding of the new government and election of the new president and the new parliamentary speaker,” Arınç said and maintained that the renewed bilateral relations with Iraq were now stronger than the past, while speaking at a press conference emerging from a Cabinet meeting.

Al-Abadi last week became the first Iraqi prime minister to visit Turkey since his predecessor al-Maliki’s visit in 2010.

Turkey and Iraq have had tense relations for years. Al-Maliki’s government was angered by Ankara strengthening ties with northern Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region, with which Baghdad had been locked in a bitter feud over oil.

Relations have improved since al-Abadi took office in September and since Baghdad and Arbil clinched an initial deal on the sharing of oil export revenues.

Following a visit to Ankara by Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari earlier in the same month, Davutoğlu visited Baghdad in November before hosting al-Abadi in the Turkish capital.