|Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu (R)called on Iraqi Turkmens to be united and urged Sunni and Shia Turkmens to refrain from sectarian confrontation at a press conference with visiting President Arshad al-Salihi of the Iraqi Turkmen Front in Ankara, Turkey, June 23, 2014. Iraqi Turkmen are the third largest ethnic group in Iraq. They mainly reside in northern Iraq and share close cultural and linguistic ties with Turkey.(Xinhua/Mustafa Kaya)
ANKARA, June 23 (Xinhua) -- Iraqi Turkmens should be united and avoid any sectarian confrontation among themselves, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on Monday.
Davutoglu made the remarks at a joint press conference in the Turkish capital of Ankara after his talks with visiting President of the Iraqi Turkmen Front (ITC) Arshad al-Salihi as gains made by Islamic militants, who have led an audacious offensive against the Iraqi central government, has recently started to threaten Turkmen populated areas.
"Turkmen unity is essential. Any confrontation among Turkmens, whether on an ethnic or sectarian basis, would upset us," said the Turkish foreign minister.
Iraqi Turkmens should take a position without making differentiating between Sunni and Shia, Davutoglu said, amid the ongoing clashes in Iraq that have slowly been gaining a religious sectarian dimension.
Referring to Turkmen residents in Iraq, the minister said that area is "very critical" and noted that Turkey expects Turkmens to develop good relations with Arabs and Kurds of Iraq "on the basis of friendship and brotherhood."
According to Davutoglu, the talks included discussions on the political position of Turkmens, with an emphasis that they should be "adequately represented in Iraqi government."
For his part, Iraqi Turkmen leader Salihi said his community was determined to peacefully live together with other groups of Iraq, adding that Turkmens expect this good will to be reciprocated.
Iraqi Turkmens are among the largest ethnic groups within Iraq residing mostly in the country's north, where the latest violence is taking place. They share ethnic and linguistic ties to Turkey.