ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Turkey will reopen its consulates in the Iraqi cities of Mosul and Basra, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu recently said on a diplomatic trip to Baghdad.
“We are reopening our Basra and Mosul consulates that we previously had to close due to security reasons,” Cavusoglu told reporters on Thursday after meeting with Iraqi President Barham Salih in the capital Baghdad.
Following the emergence of the Islamic State (IS) in northern Iraq in 2014, Turkey shut down its consulates in both major cities. They have remained shuttered since then.
Earlier in April, Turkish Ambassador to Iraqi Fatih Yildiz stated that Ankara wants to maintain strong ties with all parts of its neighbor.
“Turkey is a big country; it can't be limited to only certain parts of Iraq. Her heart and mind are broad, like her opportunities.”
“The consulate building [in Basra] is still there. We must first evaluate conditions and speak to tribal leaders and local dignitaries. Then we can take the first steps towards reactivating the mission,” Yildiz added.
Currently, Turkey has its embassy in Baghdad with a Consulate-General in the capital of the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Region.
The neighboring country annually receives a massive number of tourists from the Kurdistan Region and Iraq. Turkey also maintains strong economic relations with Iraq, namely the northern Kurdish region located across its southern border.
Earlier on Thursday, Cavusoglu met with Prime Minister-Designate Adil Abdul-Mahdi in Baghdad, where the two spoke of Turkey's role in ongoing reconstruction in post-IS Iraq. The meeting came as Abdul-Mahdi is attempting to form a new government to be submitted to parliament by the constitutional deadline of Nov. 3.
"There are excellent relations with our Turkish neighbor, and we will work to strengthen them for the benefit of the two neighboring peoples," Abdul-Mahdi said, after the meeting.
For his part, Cavusoglu stressed "Turkey's support for Iraq in all areas," adding that "work is continuing to strengthen relations between Ankara and Baghdad ... to resolve outstanding issues."
Editing by John J. Catherine