Iraq's fugitive vice president in Turkey for talks
Iraq's fugitive vice president arrived in İstanbul on Monday in a surprise visit from Doha, Today's Zaman reported.
Tariq al-Hashemi, the top Sunni official in Iraq's Shiite-dominated government, flew to Turkey with a private jet from Qatar's capital Doha on Monday. He was in Saudi Arabia before staying in Qatar for four days last week.
State-run Anatolia news agency provided no further details on the visit.
Al-Hashemi is wanted in Iraq on terror charges for allegedly running death squads against Shiite pilgrims, government officials and security forces. Iraqi authorities issued a warrant for his arrest in December, touching off a political crisis in Baghdad and deepening the country's sectarian divide just days after the US military withdrawal.
Al-Hashemi, who has denied the charges and says they are politically motivated, took refuge in the self-ruled Kurdish region in northern Iraq, out of the jurisdiction of the central government in Baghdad.
He told the pan-Arab television channel Al-Jazeera in an interview last week that the charges were designed to "push me out of the political process" and launched a scathing attack on Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
"I will return to Kurdistan without a doubt. I will never abandon my country," al-Hashemi said, adding that he would be ready to leave Kurdistan if he felt his presence there was a burden to its government.
Al-Hashemi's visit to Turkey was his first trip to Turkey since the allegations were leveled against him.