Barzani to visit Turkey as gov't repairs ties with Iraq

Barzani to visit Turkey as gov't repairs ties with Iraq

Nechirvan Barzani, the prime minister of Iraq's Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), is coming to Turkey on Thursday, a visit that follows a recent high-level visit from the central administration of Iraq to Turkey, which signaled a thaw in strained relations with Baghdad Today`s Zaman reported .

According to diplomatic sources, Barzani, who paid his last visit to Turkey in late July, is visiting Ankara on Thursday upon an invitation from Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to meet with top government officials, including Erdogan.

Barzani is also expected to meet with Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu during his time in Ankara.

The KRG prime minister and Turkish officials are expected to discuss the crisis in neighboring Syria, the settlement process the Turkish government is continuing with the terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) to solve the country's terrorism problem and intensifying diplomacy between Ankara and Baghdad.

Iraq's general elections, which will take place in April 2014, Turkey's cooperation with the KRG in the field of energy and the security situation in Iraq are other topics expected to come up during the meetings.

Last Thursday, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari paid a two-day official visit to Turkey and both countries decided to improve their relationship in a bid to put an end to frosty ties. During a joint press conference with Davutoglu, Zebari said although there are differences of opinion on some issues between Baghdad and Ankara, there are no problems that cannot be solved. The Iraqi foreign minister called on Davutoglu to turn a new page in relations.

Zebari's visit to Turkey was a result of recent diplomatic traffic between Ankara and Baghdad. Last Wednesday, Volkan Bozkir, the parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee chairman, paid a visit to Baghdad to meet with top Iraqi officials and in particular to deliver an invitation to Nouri al-Maliki on behalf of Erdogan. Speaker of the Iraqi Council of Representatives Usama Abdul Aziz al-Nujayfi also visited Ankara with a delegation from the Iraqi parliament in mid-September.

Davutoglu is now preparing to visit Baghdad in late November. After Davutoglu's visit, Maliki is expected to pay an official visit to Ankara. Erdogan may also visit Iraq after receiving Maliki in Turkey, according to some media reports.

Barzani's last visit to Turkey on July 30 and 31 coincided with escalating clashes between al-Qaeda-linked radical groups and militants affiliated with the Syrian Democratic Union Party (PYD), an offshoot of the PKK, in the town of Ras al-Ain in Syria.

As Syrian Kurds have recently gained ground in the country's north as a result of fierce fighting with the al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front, Ankara has been disturbed by effects of a spillover into Turkish provinces on its southern border. On Monday, a stray shell fired from Syria's border town of Ras al-Ain struck a house in the town of Ceylanpinar in Sanliurfa province, killing a 35-year-old Turkish citizen named İdris Akgul.

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