ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – The Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu visited Baghdad to meet with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and other high-ranking officials in order to discuss terror-related issues and work on strengthening bilateral ties.
“Strengthening bilateral ties, developing economic and trade ties in oil and transportation, and fighting terror were discussed,” a statement by the Iraqi Prime Minister’s office read on Sunday.
The foreign minister was invited by official invitation to Baghdad by his Iraqi counterpart Ibrahim Al-Jaafari.
The Turkish foreign minister reiterated his support for Iraqi unity and said that Turkish companies will help rebuild Iraq. He also extended an official invitation to Abadi to visit Turkey.
Çavuşoğlu had earlier met with Jaafari in Baghdad and held a joint press conference.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs Dr. Ibrahim Al-Jaafari welcomed his Turkish counterpart Mr. Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu in Baghdad on Sunday to discuss bilateral ties and way of strengthening them,” a statement by the Iraqi Foreign Ministry read.
The Iraqi FM said that Iraq is committed to establishing stronger relations between Baghdad and Ankara. “We focused on the importance of Turkey standing by our side after achieving victory over ISIS, for strengthening Iraqi unity and the importance of exchanging information on terror,” Jaafari added.
“It is important that Iraq has wiped out Daesh, but it is equally important to wipe out all other terrorist groups from Iraq,” Cavuşoğlu told reporters after the press conference, using the Arabic acronym for ISIS, as reported by Anadolu Agency.
Cavusoglu went on to conflate a number of Kurdish groups, such as PJAK, PKK, YPG and others as terrorist organizations that he claimed to divide Iraq, Iran, Syria and Turkey.
Cavusoglu also congratulated Iraq’s victory over ISIS.
He went on to say that “terrorists” need to be eliminated from Iraqi and the Turkish mountains just like they are being wiped out from Afrin, the minister added.
Last week Çavuşoğlu announced that he was going to visit Baghdad to “mediate talks between Erbil and Baghdad.”
“Erbil did not listen to our recommendations and went ahead with the referendum, and I am sure they have realized their mistake. We support talks between the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and Baghdad and are ready to facilitate talks to meet success,” the Turkish minister said.
The Turkish-Iraqi relations were at an all-time low before the Kurdistan Region’s independence referendum. The soured relations improved drastically when Turkey stood by Iraq and strongly supported Baghdad’s incursion into Kirkuk and other disputed areas as well as supported the punitive measures placed on the KRG by Baghdad.
“We emphasized the importance of Turkish investment in Iraq for strengthening ties and the need for Turkish forces to withdrawal from Bashiqa,” Jaafari added.
Turkey is set to participate in the upcoming International Donors Conference for rebuilding Iraq to be hosted by Kuwait. Both sides maintained that Turkish investment and increasing the level of trade between two sides are important for rebuilding the war-torn country.
The Turkish foreign minister responded by saying that they will make a decision concerning the withdrawal of Turkish soldiers from Bashiqa in cooperation with the Iraqi government. Turkey is also set to reopen consulates in both Mosul and Basra.
Water resources, a long-standing issue between the two sides were also discussed with the Jaafari thanking Turkey for halting work on the Ilısu Dam.
Cavusoglu revealed that water released to Iraq has increased from 60 cubic meters per second to 90 cubic meters per second.
Jaafari also received an official invitation from Cavusoglu to visit Turkey in the future.