Turkey PM says ready to help Iraq solve "difficulties"
www.chinaview.cn 2008-07-11 00:13:36   Print

Special report: Tension escalates in Iraq

"...you will always find us beside you to overcome those difficulties," Erdogan said.
Maliki said that Erdogan's visit to Iraq, the first in 18 years, is "historic" .
Erdogan's visit is seen as an effort to boost strained ties.

    BAGHDAD, July 10 (Xinhua) -- Visiting Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday that his country is willing to support Iraq to overcome its "difficulties."

    "I assure the people of Iraq that you will always find us beside you to overcome those difficulties," Erdogan said at a joint press conference with his Iraqi counterpart Nuri al-Maliki in Baghdad.

    "I salute the people of Iraq and say to them, be optimistic that by your unity you will pass the difficulties," he said.

    Erdogan said "there won't be international peace unless peace and security are achieved in Iraq."

    Maliki said that Erdogan's visit to Iraq, the first in 18 years, is "historic," adding the relations between the two countries will go forward through a new committee for strategic cooperation which will hold meetings twice a year.

    He said Iraqi's success in defying terrorism made them ready to go for the reconstruction phase.

    Erdogan's visit is seen as an effort to boost ties strained by Turkey's cross-border strikes on the Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK) rebels based in northern Iraq.

    Turkey has been frequently assaulted by the PKK guerrillas who hole up in northern Iraq's Kurdish autonomous region.

    The Turkish military has air bombed and fired shells on the rebel targets and launched ground operations into the Iraqi territory since the Turkish parliament passed an authorization bill in October 2007.

    The operations drew strong reaction from Iraq which accuses Turkey of violating its sovereignty. Ankara, however, disavows any attempt on Iraq's territory.

    Iraqi President Jalal Talabani traveled to Turkey in March in a bid to mend the rift.

    "The terrorist organization of PKK is not only an enemy to Turkey but also to Iraq," Erdogan said at the press conference, adding that Turkey will not allow the PKK to poison bilateral and regional relations.

    The United States has been pushing the two allies to avoid a confrontation. A security deterioration in the relatively stable Kurdish region will put at risk the hard-fought gains in other areas of Iraq.

    Given the discord over the PKK issue, neither is willing to seethe tension escalated.

    Turkey is Iraq's major investor, especially in the northern Kurdish region. Iraq also depends on Turkey to boost its oil exports as a vital pipeline links the Kirkuk oil field in Iraq to a Turkish port.

    A Turkish trade delegation visited Iraq last month to discuss investment in a wide range of fields, including energy, electricity and transportation.

    For Iraq, Erdogan' visit also came as a considerable award to its effort of drumming up diplomatic support from neighboring nations, especially Arab countries.

    Leaders of the Arab nations shunned tours to Iraq since fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003, either out of security concerns or due to misgivings over the relationship between Iraq's Shiite-led government and Iran.

    Maliki has urged Iraq's Sunni neighbors and other countries to step up diplomatic exchanges with Iraq, including more visits by government leaders and dispatching ambassadors.

    Washington is also calling for greater diplomatic endorsement so as to counter Iran's growing influence in Iraq.

    Jordan and the United Arab Emirates have appointed ambassadors to Iraq. Bahrain and Kuwait are also poised to do so. On Thursday, Kuwait also announced it will soon name its first ambassador to Iraq since Saddam Hussein's troops invaded the country in 1990.

    Jordan's King Abdullah II is expected to set out for Iraq next week, which will make him the first head of an Arab nation to visit Iraq since 2003. 

Turkish PM starts first visit to Iraq

    BAGHDAD, July 10 (Xinhua) -- Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrived in Baghdad Thursday on a visit aimed at boosting the bilateral ties marred by Turkey's cross-border strikes on rebels based in northern Iraq.

    Erdogan was received at Baghdad airport by his Iraqi counterpart Nuri al-Maliki and other senior Iraqi officials, including Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari and Oil Minister Husseinal-Shahristani, an airport official told Xinhua.  Full story   

Editor: Mu Xuequan
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