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Turkey, Iraq prepare for mutual visits to mend ties

Tuesday, October 29, 2013 - 12:57

Ankara and Baghdad have accelerated a recent move toward rapprochement with mutual high-level visits as the prime ministers of two countries are planning to exchange visits in the upcoming months, Hurriyet Daily News reported.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is expected to visit Turkey in December, following the visits of Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu on Nov. 13-14 and Parliamentary Speaker Cemil Çiçek on Nov. 22-23 to Iraq.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Oct. 27 that he would go to Baghdad after al-Maliki's visit to Turkey.

The chairman of the Turkish Parliament's Foreign Relations Committee, Volkan Bozkır, recently brought an invitation to Ankara from Erdoğan to al-Maliki.

Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari conducted talks in Ankara last week after a long period of strain between the two capitals.

"We agreed to take new steps in order to improve bilateral relations and to open new horizons," Zebari said Oct. 25 at a joint press with his Turkish counterpart. "We have turned the old page and opened a new chapter in our relations," Zebari said.

The Iraqi minister said a new mechanism would be established between the two countries for political consultations and direct communication. "Our official channels and diplomacy channels are open," he said.

Tensions between the two countries have soured considerably in recent years due to oil agreements signed by Turkey with the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) of northern Iraq, without the consent of the central Iraqi government. Ties were further strained after Turkey gave refuge to fugitive Iraqi Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi.

Al-Maliki is likely to run for the prime minister's job for a third term after upcoming elections.

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