Turkish FM in Baghdad for cooperation over trade, fighting terror

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu arrived in Baghdad on Sunday for talks with Iraqi leaders over cooperation in the fields of fighting terror, boosting trade exchange and reconstruction efforts of Iraqi areas liberated from the Islamic State (IS) militants.

At a joint press conference, Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohammed al-Hakim said that “we have discussed with the Turkish side in detail an array of issues concerning Iraq and Turkey, including the war on terror and the presence of terrorist groups on the Iraqi-Turkish border.”

He said the discussions also included the reconstruction of areas liberated from IS group and the return of displaced people to their homes, in addition to activating the trade exchange and the water of the two major rivers of Tigris and Euphrates.

For his part, Cavusoglu said that “it is very important to cooperate with neighboring countries,” adding Turkey is not only ready to eradicate IS, but to clear border areas from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants and other terrorist groups.

“We encourage Iraq to be a hub between Europe, Asia and the Gulf countries. For this, we want to open up another border gate and build railways and highways in the country. We need to work together for these infrastructure investments,” Cavusoglu told reporters.

Cavusoglu also revealed that the Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi will pay a visit to Turkey, and later the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will visit Iraq, without specifying dates for the two visits.

The Turkish FM also said the Iraqi authorities have agreed to reopen Turkish consulates in the cities of Mosul in north and Basra in the south, stressing that his country wants to open two new consulates in the cities of Najaf and Kirkuk.

Earlier in the day, Cavusoglu arrived in Baghdad heading a delegation to meet with Iraqi top officials and is scheduled to visit the Iraqi cities of Basra and Erbil, the capital of the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region.