Iraq to ‘review’ relations after Turkey FM visit
Iraq is to “review” relations with Turkey after Ankara’s foreign minister visited the disputed northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk without informing Baghdad, government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said on Tuesday.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu’s visit to Kirkuk on August 2 drew a furious reaction from Baghdad and brought already-chilly relations between the two countries to a new low.
“The cabinet studied recent developments in Turkish-Iraqi relations and decided to review these relations in light of recent developments in a new cabinet meeting as soon as possible,” Dabbagh said in an emailed statement.
The cabinet also decided to form a committee headed by Deputy Prime Minister Hussein al-Shahristani “to investigate the circumstances of the Turkish foreign minister’s visit to Kirkuk and present recommendations to the cabinet,” he said.
Iraq’s foreign ministry responded to the visit with a statement saying “it is not in the interest of Turkey or any other party to underestimate the national sovereignty and violate the rules of international relations.”
But Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan defended the visit, saying it is only normal for “a minister bearing a red passport to visit the regional administration (in Kurdistan in north Iraq) and then travel to Kirkuk, 40 kilometres from (Arbil) to meet with his kinsmen.”
Kirkuk province is part of a swathe of disputed territory in northern Iraq that along with oil contracts are among the main points of contention between Baghdad and the Kurdish regional government in Arbil.