Oct 23 2013
By Sabah al-Khalidi
Azzaman, October 23, 2013
A thaw in ties between Baghdad and Ankara is expected soon following a visit by a high-raking Turkish official to Iraq.
Volkan Bozkir, the head of Foreign Relations Committee at the Turkish parliament, is in Baghdad for talks with Iraqi government officials, including Prime Minister Noori al-Maliki.
A statement by the prime minister’s office said Maliki has accepted an invitation from his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan to visit Ankara in the nearest future.
Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zaibari will be flying to Ankara next week for talks with his Turkish counterpart Ahmet Davutoglu.
Bozkir also carries with him a formal invitation from Maliki to Erdogan to visit the country.
“Maliki has stressed to Bozkir that Iraq is keen to develop bilateral relations,” the statement said.
Bozkir made it clear that Ankara wanted “to open a new page” in its relations with Iraq, the statement added.
Ties between the countries worsened following measures by Ankara to host an Iraqi vice-president who fled the country to escape trial on alleged complicity with terrorist acts.
The ties have been frosty since the start of the Syrian rebellion against the rule of President Bashar al-Assad with Ankara siding with the rebels and Baghdad supporting the government in Damascus.
Ankara has also angered Baghdad by allowing the Kurds to construct a pipeline to ferry oil produced in their autonomous region to the outside world via Turkish territory.
However, the statement said: “The visit by Bozkir sends a positive message that Ankara is interested in solving differences and opening a new page.”
Bozkir had a special meeting with Deputy Prime Minister Husain Shahristani, who handles Iraq’s energy file.
The statement said Shahristani raised the issue of “oil smuggling” via Turkey in his talks with the Turkish official, a reference to Iraqi Kurdish attempts to ship their oil via Turkey.
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