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Erdogan heads to Iraq with water, oil and security as key issues

Erdogan heads to Iraq with water, oil and security as key issues


Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was in Baghdad on Monday for his first state visit to Iraq in more than a decade.with water, oil and thorny regional security issues at the center of the meetings.

Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani welcomed Erdogan upon his arrival at Baghdad airport in a ceremony with great fanfare.

The visit comes at a time of high tension in the Middle East due to the war in Gaza and fears of an escalation between Israel and Iran.

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Erdogan and Sudani returned to their countries' traditional positions, while highlighting issues they could work on together.

Soudani welcomed the signing of a “strategic framework agreement” to “build sustainable cooperation in all areas” through permanent commissions on “security, energy and the economy”.

In addition to the signing of 24 memorandums of understanding, the meetings focused in particular on the Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK).

For decades, Turkey has operated military bases in northern Iraq to fight the rebel group, which Ankara and its Western allies consider a “terrorist organization.”

The central government in Baghdad and Kurdish autonomous authorities have been accused of tolerating Turkey's military activities to protect economic ties with Ankara.

“We discussed joint measures that can be taken against the PKK and its extensions, which attack Turkey from Iraqi territory,” Erdogan said at a joint press conference.

“I expressed to my counterparts my firm conviction that the presence of the PKK on Iraqi territory will end more quickly if it is officially declared a terrorist organization,” he insisted.

Water is another hot topic, as dams built by Turkey on the Tigris and Euphrates rivers have worsened Iraq's water shortage.

The two countries signed a new 10-year agreement on this issue, with the aim of “improving water management” on the two rivers, said Mr. Soudani, in order to achieve a “common and equitable administration water resources.

Also on the agenda was the “Development Road”, an ambitious 1,200 km road and rail project linking the Gulf to Turkey via Iraq by 2030.

On Monday, in the presence of Erdogan and Sudani, four ministers representing Iraq, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar signed a “quadripartite memorandum of understanding” regarding their cooperation on this project, according to an Iraqi statement.

After Baghdad, the Turkish leader also visited Erbil, the capital of the autonomous region of Kurdistan.




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