Turkish premier to begin landmark visit to Baghdad
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was expected to begin a landmark visit to Baghdad Thursday, to boost ties with its southern neighbour marred at times by Kurdish rebel attacks on Turkey from bases in northern Iraq, reported dpa.
Erdogan was expected to seal a strategic partnership agreement with Iraq that will boost cooperation in all areas, including security, an official from Iraq's Foreign Ministry, Labid Abawi, was quoted as saying by Iraqi media.
Baghdad's relations with Ankara have been at times strained by Turkish military offensives against the rebel Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which launches attacks inside Turkey from its mountainous enclave in northern Iraq.
Turkey has carried out several strikes against PKK targets since December and conducted a week-long ground operation against rebel positions in February, further straining its ties with Iraq and its Kurdish Autonomous Region in the north.
The PKK issue will be dealt with in the strategic agreement, Iraq's Sunni Vice President Tarek al-Hashimi, who has good ties with Ankara, was quoted as saying by the Voices of Iraq news agency.
He did not explain how this highly sensitive issue would be tackled in view of strong sympathies felt by Iraq's politically independent Kurds for their fellow Kurds fighting for self-rule in Turkey's mainly Kurdish south-east since 1984.
More than 35,000 people have died in the conflict.
The PKK has been blacklisted as a terrorist group by the European Union and the US.