Erdogan announces singing anti-terror pact, bilateral trade agreements with Iraq

Erdogan announces singing anti-terror pact, bilateral trade agreements with Iraq

Shafaq News/ Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkish-Iraqi relations has entered a new phase as he announcef signing security and trade agreements during a visit to Baghdad on Monday.

Speaking at a joint press conference with Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani, Erdogan said, "It is a pleasure to be in Baghdad at the invitation of my dear brother, al-Sudani. Our Iraqi brothers made us feel at home."

The President highlighted the strategic significance of Iraq for Turkey and expressed a desire to maintain "constant dialogue". Erdogan stated that the agreements signed with Iraq represent a "new chapter" in their bilateral relations.

Erdogan noted that Turkey and Iraq share many common interests and expressed confidence in the "political will" to advance their relationship. He added, "The memoranda we signed represent a turning point in our relations with Iraq."

The Turkish President also mentioned ongoing cooperation in security and counter-terrorism, pledging Turkiye's support for Iraq's efforts to combat terrorism.

"The volume of trade between Iraq and Turkey has risen to 20 billion dollars, and we are determined to support the Development Road project to promote trade," said Erdogan. He also unveiled the formation of a Turkish-Iraqi committee to address water issues on a "scientific and rational basis".

Regarding the agreement to combat the PKK, Erdogan explained that it aims to eliminate the threat it poses to both his country and the region. He also acknowledged Iraq's readiness to support these efforts.

The Turkish President expressed his solidarity with Iraq on the issue of Gaza, condemning the oppressive actions in the region and affirming support for a sovereign Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital. He also announced plans to visit Erbil, the capital of Iraq's Kurdistan Region, following his meetings in Baghdad.

Erdogan and al-Sudani oversaw the signing of a four-way memorandum of understanding between Turkey, Iraq, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates for joint cooperation on Iraq's $17 billion Development Road project, with Qatari and Emirati ministers in attendance.

Launched last year, the 1,200-km (745-mile) road and rail project aims to turn Iraq into a transit hub, connecting Asia and Europe with a link between Iraq's Grand Faw Port in the oil-rich south and Turkey in the north.

Earlier today, Turkish President Erdogan began a rare visit to neighbouring Iraq aiming to reset rocky bilateral ties with a raft of deals covering energy, trade, and security cooperation against the PKK militants.

Erdogan's long-awaited visit is the first by a Turkish leader since 2011 and follows years of strained relations as Ankara ramped up cross-border operations against PKK militants based in mountainous, mainly Iraqi Kurdistan.

Iraq has said Turkish military operations have violated its sovereignty and killed civilians. Ankara says it must protect itself against the PKK, which Turkiye and its Western allies designate as a terrorist group.

Turkiye plans a new swoop on the militants this spring and has sought Iraqi cooperation, in the form of a joint operations room, as well as recognition by Baghdad of the PKK threat.

Bilateral trade was worth $19.9 billion in 2023, down from $24.2 billion in 2022, according to official Turkish data. In the first three months of 2024, Turkish exports to Iraq rose by 24.5%, while imports fell by 46.2%.

After meetings in Baghdad, Erdogan was set to travel to Erbil, the provincial capital of Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdistan region, for talks with Kurdish officials.

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