Turkish, Iraqi leaders sign military cooperation agreement
ANKARA,— Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi visited Turkey on Wednesday and met with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to discuss bilateral issues, in a bid to further strengthen bilateral relations.
The two leaders discussed the fight against terrorism, reconstruction works in Iraq and steps to be taken to enhance cooperation between Iraq and Turkey, especially in the areas of trade and energy, during their meeting at the Beştepe Presidential Complex in the capital Ankara.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a joint news conference that Turkey and Iraq have discussed a possible deal to increase military and security cooperation between the neighboring countries.
Erdogan also said a pipeline running from Iraqi oil fields to Turkey, which was damaged during the Islamic State group’s presence in Iraq, should rapidly be repaired and become operational.
Turkey is likely to look to Iraq for its oil supplies after the U.S.
announced an end to waivers that have allowed Turkey to import from Iran despite sanctions.
The two leaders also discussed the construction of dams following floods in Iraq and as well as the reconstruction of areas devastated by the IS, Erdogan added.
“We agreed on rebuilding Iraq, developing areas affected by Daesh [ISIS] occupation and establishing a trade corridor to the south of Iraq,” Erdogan said.
He added that the defense ministers and intelligence chiefs of Turkey and Iraq would meet soon to discuss further details of the agreements.
Erdogan went on to say that Turkey and Iraq are on the same page regarding Syria’s territorial integrity.
On the energy front, the Iraqi and Turkish leaders highlighted the importance of reopening the Kirkuk-Ceyhan oil pipeline which has been vandalized by the Islamic State terror group.
Abdul-Mahdi said: “We will never accept any security threat against Turkey stemming from the territory of Iraq.”
The fight against the Kurdish PKK organization was one of the topics at the top of the two leaders’ agenda since it is a major security concern for both countries.
The Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) regularly conduct cross-border operations in Kurdistan region in Iraq’s north, where PKK fighters have hideouts and bases from which they carry out attacks in Turkey.
The PKK took up arms in 1984 against the Turkish state, which still denies the constitutional existence of Kurds, to push for greater autonomy in Turkish Kurdistan for the Kurdish minority who make up around 22.5 million of the country’s 79-million population.
More than 40,000 Turkish soldiers and Kurdish rebels, have been killed in the conflict.
A large Kurdish community in Turkey and worldwide openly sympathise with PKK rebels and Abdullah Ocalan, who founded the PKK group in 1974 and currently serving a life sentence in Turkey, has a high symbolic value for most Kurds in Turkey and worldwide according to observers.
Another important issue during the meeting was the reconstruction of Iraq after the three-year war against ISIS.
The reconstruction will include cities destroyed by terror and war, ruined roads, buildings, damaged electricity production capacity and distribution networks and other damaged sites.
Iraqi infrastructure has also been deteriorating due to insufficient investments and maintenance.
Water management in Iraq was another issue which was extensively discussed in the meeting.
Previously, both countries agreed to work together on water management to prevent a water crisis in the region.
Turkey had also decided to send a special representative, Veysel Eroglu, to Iraq to share Turkey’s experiences on the issue.
In late April, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoglu visited Iraq and met with his counterpart Mohamed Ali Alhakim.
In January, Iraqi President Barham Salih also visited Turkey and held talks with President Erdogan, agreeing on enhancing cooperation in all fields.
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