Turkey, Iraq to hold high-level talks on security, energy in Baghdad: Turkish FM

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Senior officials from Turkey and Iraq will meet in Baghdad on Thursday to discuss energy cooperation, as well as security and defense matters, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday.

Ties between the neighbors have been rocky in recent years as Ankara has ramped up cross-border operations against Kurdish PKK militants based in northern Iraq’s mountainous regions.

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Iraq has said the operations violate its sovereignty, but Ankara says it must protect itself and has warned of a new incursion.

The two are also at odds over the resumption of oil exports from a crude oil pipeline running from Iraq through Turkey that Ankara says is ready to operate but Baghdad has yet to resume its operations.

Speaking at a briefing in Ankara, ministry spokesman Oncu Keceli said Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan, Defense Minister Yasar Guler, and Ibrahim Kalin, head of Turkey’s MIT intelligence agency, would hold talks with their counterparts in Baghdad in a “security summit.”

“Developing a common understanding in counterterrorism and concrete steps that can be taken in that regard will be on the table,” Keceli said. “The PKK being defined as a common security threat by Iraqi authorities is a sign that the desire to battle the PKK is developing in Iraq and we welcome this.”

The outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), designated a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States and the European Union, took up arms against the Turkish state in 1984. More than 40,000 people have been killed in the insurgency.

Keceli said the resumption of oil flows from the Iraq-Turkey pipeline would be discussed during the meetings.

Turkey halted flows on the pipeline, Iraq’s northern oil export route, after an arbitration ruling by the International Chamber of Commerce ordered Ankara to pay Baghdad damages for unauthorized exports between 2014 and 2018.

Ankara later started maintenance work on the pipeline that contributes about 0.5 percent of global crude supply.

The two countries agreed to wait until a maintenance assessment on the pipeline was complete to restart flows while still engaging in a legal battle on arbitration awards.

“We said last October that the flows could being on this pipeline, that there is no issues for us. However, we understand the Iraqi side is not yet ready,” Keceli said. “We want for all the parties in Iraq to reach an agreement within the framework of mutual dialogue and understanding, and for flows on this pipeline to resume as soon as possible.”

He said the officials would also discuss cooperation on gas and renewable energy, as well as a planned visit by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to Baghdad, which is expected in the spring.

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