Turkey, Iraq fear spillover from Syria war

Turkey, Iraq fear spillover from Syria war
Fri Oct 25, 2013 16:35:21

Turkey and Iraq said on Friday that their strained relations will be improved in a bid to defy the spillover of al Qaeda from Syria to their territories.

The two countries' dealings have been tense in recent years, not least because of Turkey's deepening ties with northern Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan region, locked in a dispute with the federal government over oil and land rights.

"Over the past two years our relations have gone through a bit of a problematic time," Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari told a joint news conference with his Turkish counterpart Ahmet Davutoglu during a visit to Ankara.

“But the time has come for us to close this page and open a new one. Even though we still have certain disagreements, we don't have any problems that are not solvable."

The war in Syria, supported by Turkish government, has drawn foreign backed militants from across the region and beyond into battle against President Bashar al-Assad's government and has nourished the revival of al Qaeda in Iraq.

Al Qaeda's Syrian and Iraqi wings merged this year to form the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), which has mounted attacks in Syria and Iraq and has taken territory in northern Syria close to the border with Turkey in recent weeks.

For his part, Davutoglu said both sides had agreed on a formal mechanism for more intensive talks between their governments.

"We are the two countries that are the most deeply affected by developments in Syria," Davutoglu said.

He will visit Baghdad in the first half of November, his first visit to the Iraqi capital since March 2011.

Iraq has been particularly angered by Turkey's involvement in the autonomous Kurdistan region's oil and gas industry.

Another source of tension has been the presence in Turkey of fugitive Iraqi Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi, sentenced to death in Baghdad on charges of running death squads.

NJF/NJF

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