Turkish ministers hold talks in Baghdad ahead of Erdogan’s expected visit

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A high-ranking Turkish delegation held talks in Baghdad on Thursday, discussing key security and energy issues ahead of an expected visit by the Turkish president, Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein said.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is expected to visit Iraq after the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, which ends in April, said a joint statement following the meeting.

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Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan, Defense Minister Yasar Guler and intelligence chief Ibrahim Kalin attended the talks with their Iraqi counterparts.

“We discussed a wide range of bilateral and regional issues, and the upcoming visit,” the Iraqi minister said on X, formerly Twitter.

“We stressed the need to strengthen cooperation in the fields of security, trade, energy, water, education, and everything that is in the interest of our countries,” Hussein added.

Relations between the two countries have been strained by repeated Turkish military operations against Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq as well as rows about oil exports and the sharing of scarce water supplies.

A joint statement following the security meeting said the presence in Iraq of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an organization banned by Ankara and its Western allies as a terrorist organization, “represents a violation of the Iraqi constitution”.

Turkey welcomed, according to the statement, an Iraqi decision to “consider the PKK a banned organisation”.

The dispute over oil exports from Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region has been a particular sticking point.

Nearly a decade after seeking international arbitration, the Iraqi federal government last year won recognition of its right to control Kurdish oil exports and Ankara was ordered to pay $1.5 billion in damages for transporting them without Baghdad’s approval.

In protest, Ankara shut down the export pipeline.

Turkish foreign ministry spokesman Oncu Keceli said Wednesday he hoped the pipeline would reopen “as soon as possible”. He added that Erdogan would discuss the details during his visit.

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