Iraq and Turkey pledge easing tensions

Iraq and Turkey pledge easing tensions
Mon Nov 11, 2013 08:48:09

Iraq and Turkey are going to patch up rifts and ease diplomatic tensions that were heightened following start of the war in neighboring Syria.

On Sunday, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said at a joint press conference in Baghdad with his Turkish counterpart Ahmet Davutoglu that a new chapter has opened in Baghdad-Ankara ties.

"I confirm that a new page in the relations between Iraq and Turkey has been opened after this visit," Zebari said.

"Turkey is an important trading partner, maybe number one to Iraq, as the bilateral trade is about 12 billion US dollars and there is hope that the volume will increase," he added.

Davutoglu arrived in Baghdad for a two-day official visit described by Turkish officials as a fresh start in the two countries’ relations.

“They are going to discuss a fresh start to relations," a Turkish official said. "They will mostly discuss bilateral issues, what is happening in the region, and Syria."

Relations between the two countries soured early last year, when Turkey offered a safe haven to former Iraqi vice president Tareq al-Hashemi. The fugitive politician is wanted in Iraq for running death squads and other crimes.

Baghdad has also criticized controversial energy deals between Turkey and Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) without the consent of the central government.

"This marks a resumption of normal relations, and an end to tensions," Maliki's spokesman Ali al-Mussawi said before Davutoglu's arrival. "We hope relations will return to their normal state."

"The two countries have joint interests, history and challenges," he added.

"Warm relations do not mean agreeing on all regional issues ... On those that we have differences, we will talk about them and solve them through dialogue," Mussawi noted.


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