In a surprise move, Recep Tayyip Erdogan invited Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to Turkey to find ways to end the increasingly growing animosity in relations between the two countries soared immediately after the withdrawal of US troops at the end of the last year.
Turkey's hosting of Iraq's fugitive Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi who was sentenced to death earlier this month in a terror trial on charges of running death squads is the chief factor that tore Ankara and Baghdad apart. Among other factors that deepened tensions between Turkey and Iraq is Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu's controversial and unauthorized visit to Kirkuk.
Last month, Iraq said Turkey had violated its constitution by sending its foreign minister without official permission by the central government to visit Kirkuk, a city at the heart of a dispute between Baghdad and the country's autonomous Kurdistan region.
AFP reported that an Iraqi official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said, Turkish prime minister "sent an official invitation" to Maliki a few days ago to visit Ankara. "It is not certain if he will accept," the official said.
Iraq is Turkey's second biggest export market after Germany, with trade volume reaching nearly $12 billion in 2011, Turkey's economy minister said during a visit to northern Iraq early this year.
Maliki and Erdoğan have publicly traded insults several times this year as relations have soured.
Both prime ministers have engaged in tit-for-tat accusations over the past months. Erdoğan accused Maliki of amassing his power in Baghdad at expense of other political groups in the country. Erdoğan 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 Turkish prime minister for meddling in internal affairs of Iraq.