Turkish FM, Iraqi counterpart discuss 'border security'
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Turkish Foreign Minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, on Sunday met with his Iraqi counterpart, Mohammed al-Hakim, to discuss a range of issues, including “border security” between the two countries.
Cavusoglu arrived in Baghdad on Sunday and is expected to visit the city of Basra as well as the Kurdistan Region, with which Turkey shares part of its southern border that it regularly shells while targeting alleged Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) positions.
Such attacks have led to the evacuation of many villagers from the Kurdistan Region as Ankara’s warplanes continue to extensively damage their pastoral and agricultural lands, and, on occasion, kill civilian bystanders about whom there are no claims of PKK affiliation. Aggrieved locals have long urged both sides to take their conflict elsewhere.
The PKK has been engaged in a decades-long insurgency against Turkey over Kurdish rights and self-rule. Turkey, the United States, and the European Union all designate it as a “terrorist” group.
Along with regional developments, the two ministers “also discussed the issue of border security between Iraq and Turkey,” Hakim told a joint news conference with Cavusoglu in Baghdad.
Ankara has long called on Baghdad and Erbil to put an end to PKK activities along their borders, and both of the latter governments have stated the group must stop using the Kurdistan Region’s territory as a launching pad for its attacks on Turkey.
Hakim also said that the “PKK issue” was an important part of their meeting, with Cavusoglu stating the two sides need to “cooperate” to “put an end to the group.”
The ministers also discussed future visits by their respective heads of governments, but did not specify a date for such events.
The two had extensively explored the future of bilateral trade and Iraq’s post-ISIS reconstruction, to which, Cavusoglu claimed Turkey would contribute. The Turkish FM also spoke of plans for Ankara to open multiple new consulates in Najaf, Kirkuk, and Basra and reopen the existing one in Mosul.
Another topic of discussion was the issue of water supply to the Tigris from Turkey.
Editing by Nadia Riva