Turkish President, PM meet Iraqi Kurdish PM

Turkish President, PM meet Iraqi Kurdish PM

Turkish President, PM meet Iraqi Kurdish PM

In this handout picture obtained from the Turkish Presidential Press service Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu (R) shakes hands with Prime Minister of Iraq?s Kurdish Regional Government (KRG), Nechervan Barzani (L) at the Dolmabahçe in Istanbul, Turkey on December 26, 2015. / AFP / presidential press service / HAKAN GOKTEPE

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu hosted Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani in two separate meetings in Istanbul on Dec. 26.

Erdoğan welcomed Barzani at the Mabeyn Mansion in Istanbul’s Yıldız Palace, where they had a 90-minute closed-door meeting. 

According to Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency, the leaders discussed regional developments, especially the fight against terror. 

Erdoğan and Barzani also talked about furthering bilateral relations through increased cooperation on energy, trade and the economy. 

In a statement released by Barzani’s office, the Turkish president reiterated the importance of the KRG and pledged to continue providing assistance, especially on countering terror. 

“KRG and Iraq are important for Turkey and we will hence continue to strengthen our friendly relations. Moreover, we will continue to provide assistance especially on countering terrorism,” Erdoğan was quoted as saying. 

Meanwhile, Barzani was quoted as thanking Turkey for its military and humanitarian assistance to the “people of Kurdistan.”

Reports by Doğan News Agency indicate similar issues were discussed in a separate meeting between Barzani and Davutoğlu on Dec. 26. 

Davutoğlu hosted Barzani at his office in Istanbul’s Dolmabahçe Palace. 

During the meeting, Barzani conveyed his thanks for Turkey’s support against terrorist organizations in the Middle East, especially the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and asked for continued assistance. 

In similar sentiment, Davutoğlu pledged to continue support against the terrorist organization, in cooperation with international and regional allies. 

Ankara has recently witnessed increased tensions with Baghdad over Turkey’s deployment of additional troops to the Bashiqa camp in northern Iraq where it has a long-running training camp for forces battling ISIL. 

While Turkey has said the deployment was routine and necessary to protect the trainers, Baghdad has argued it was unauthorized and protested to the United Nations Security Council to make Turkey pull its forces from Iraq.

Following a series of bilateral talks to alleviate Iraq’s concerns, Turkey rearranged the number of troops in Bashiqa and the additional security elements left the camp on Dec. 14.