Iraq's Maliki turns down Turkey's invitation to AK Party congress

Photo: Iraq's Maliki turns down Turkey's invitation to AK Party congress
 / Arab World
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has turned down an invitation by his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan to pay a visit to Turkey to attend Erdogan's ruling Justice and Development Party's (AK Party) congress this weekend Today`s Zaman reported

Speaking during an interview with Iraq's semi-official al-Iraqiya television, Maliki cited another planned foreign visit in his rejection of the invitation, adding that he had penned "a letter of thanks" to the Turkish premier.

Turkish diplomatic officials confirmed on Wednesday that Maliki had been invited to attend the upcoming party congress of the AK Party, scheduled for Sept. 30.

According to a diplomatic official -- who spoke to Today's Zaman on condition of anonymity -- Maliki was not invited for bilateral talks specifically but was invited to attend the AK Party Congress, with many other important political figures, including Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) leader Massoud Barzani and Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, all expected to attend.

Maliki and Erdogan have publicly traded insults several times this year as relations have soured.

Both prime ministers have engaged in tit-for-tat accusations over recent months. Erdogan accused Maliki of amassing his power in Baghdad at the expense of other political groups in the country. Erdogan also several times blasted his counterpart for hounding political opponents and fomenting sectarian tension in the politically fragile country.

In return Maliki has vehemently criticized the Turkish prime minister for meddling in Iraq's internal affairs.

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