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Turkey’s Erdogan meets Iraq PM for talks on water, security and trade

In News, World
April 22, 2024

Turkish president says two leaders discussed steps the two countries could take against the PKK armed group.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has met Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani in Baghdad for talks on security, economic and energy cooperation.

In a joint news conference on Monday, Erdogan said the two leaders discussed steps the two countries could take against the armed group the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and welcomed Iraq’s designation of the PKK as a banned group.

Erdogan said he had shared his strong belief that the PKK’s presence in Iraqi territory would end as soon as possible. The Turkish president said that cooperation on security and the fight against “terrorism” was one of the most important agenda items during his meetings in Iraq.

The PKK, which has fought a decades-long rebellion against the Turkish state and is considered a “terrorist” group by Ankara and its Western allies, has a presence in northern Iraq.

Since 2019, Turkey has conducted a series of cross-border operations in northern Iraq against the PKK dubbed “Claw”.

Al-Sudani said Turkey and Iraq discussed security cooperation and agreed to deal with the challenge of non-state armed actors that could cooperate with “terrorist” groups.

The two sides signed a strategic framework agreement to oversee security, energy and economic cooperation as well as a 10-year agreement on management of water resources that ensures Iraq will get its fair share, the Iraqi prime minister added.

During Erdogan’s visit, the Turkish president and Iraqi premier also witnessed the signing of a preliminary agreement by related ministers of the countries to cooperate on a $17bn Development Road project.

Erdogan also said in the press conference that Ankara eyes widening mutual trade – and cooperation in energy, health and tourism – with Iraq.

The Iraqi prime minister said 24 memorandums of understanding were signed during Erdogan’s one-day visit.

“I believe that my visit and agreements just signed will constitute a new turning point in Turkey-Iraq relations,” Erdogan said in the press conference.

Meeting with Rashid

The Turkish leader earlier met with Iraqi President Abdul Latif Rashid in Baghdad. He told Rashid that Turkey “had expectations of Iraq regarding the fight against the terrorist organisation PKK, and that Iraq must be rid of all forms of terrorism”, according to his office.

Erdogan’s trip comes amid soaring regional tensions, fuelled by Israel’s war on Gaza and a confrontation between Israel and Iran.

The Turkish president reiterated his call for all relevant parties to refrain from escalating tensions in the Middle East.

Bilateral trade between Turkey and Iraq was worth $19.9bn in 2023, down from $24.2bn in 2022, according to official Turkish data.

In the first three months of 2024, Turkish exports to Iraq rose by 24.5 percent, while imports fell by 46.2 percent.

After meetings in Baghdad, Erdogan was set to travel to Erbil, the provincial capital of the semi-autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq, for talks with Iraqi Kurdish officials with trade and security high on the agenda.

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