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Turkey’s foreign minister says wanted Iraqi vice president should stay in Iraq

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Turkey’s foreign minister on Saturday urged Iraqi Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi, facing an arrest warrant on terror charges, to remain in Iraq but said Turkey would not turn him away if he requested asylum.

“What would be appropriate for us is that Mr Hashemi should stay within the Iraqi territory,” said Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu in televised remarks broadcast by the state-run Turkish Radio and Television.

Davutoglu said Turkey’s doors were open to him but that he would prefer him to stay in Iraq and contribute to a solution to political the problems facing his country.

Hashemi, a member of Iraq’ Sunni Arab minority who has fled to the autonomous Kurdish region, is the subject of an arrest warrant that has plunged the country into political chaos.

Davutoglu said the gravity of the allegation faced by Hashemi could not be minimized.

“This is a very serious accusation and I think it must be clarified as soon as possible,” he said.

Asked about Turkey’s response if the Iraqi leader requested asylum from Turkey, which shares a border with Iraq, Davutoglu said: “Our tradition requires us not to say ‘no’ to any statesman who requests asylum from Turkey.”

A five-member judicial panel has issued a warrant for Hashemi’s arrest on terror charges. Hashemi says that the charges are politically motivated and that he would accept trial before a court in the Iraqi Kurdish region.

Meanwhile, the Turkey-based newspaper, Today’s Zaman, reported that some Turkish diplomats said that Hashemi can come any time to the Anatolian country.

The diplomats who wanted to remain anonymous told the newspaper that “Hashemi, in his capacity as Iraqi vice president, could come to Turkey any time he desires.”

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki threatened to resign if the parliament did not give a vote of no-confidence against Iraq’s deputy prime minister, Saleh al-Mutlak, and urged the semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan to turn over Hashemi to the government.

Mutlak, who described the country’s prime minster as a “dictator,” said his secular, Sunni-backed political block is being increasingly marginalized by Maliki, in an interview with Al Arabiya TV.

On Thursday, a series of coordinated bombings rocked the Iraqi capital, killing at least 67 people and injuring as many as 185 others in the worst violence in Iraq for months and shortly after the U.S. troops’ withdrawal from the conflict-ridden country.