Turkey is in Iraq’s Bashiqa out of necessity, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim told his Iraqi counterpart Haidar al-Abadi during his visit to the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, on Saturday, Anadolu reported.
Yildirim is on an official visit to discuss regional issues, including bilateral cooperation against terrorism. He arrived at the Baghdad International Airport along with a high-level delegation.
A closed to the press meeting was later held between Yildirim and al-Abadi.
In remarks made after the meeting, Yildirim said: “Your recent statement stating that ‘we will not allow the PKK to threaten Turkey from Iraqi territories’ is of great importance to us.”
He said al-Ibadi's statement showed what the two countries could do together while fighting against terrorism.
About Turkey's military presence in Iraq’s Bashiqa, Yildirim said: “Turkey is in Bashiqa not arbitrarily but out of necessity.
"We see that important steps have been taken in clearing the area from Daesh. We will accordingly reach a solution in a friendly manner about this [PKK] issue as well."
He also said the situation in Iraq’s northern Sinjar region constituted a first-degree threat to Turkey and thanked al-Ibadi for his sensitivity over eliminating the threat there.
"We will continue our cooperation with Iraq against all threats from Iraq, not only Sinjar," Yildirim said.
Oil pipeline with Turkey
Al-Ibadi, for his part, said Iraq would open an oil pipeline with Turkey after Mosul gets liberated, "which will be based on an agreement between the two countries."
Describing Turkey as a "neighbor and friendly" country, he said Iraq was eager to increase its economic and commercial ties with Turkey.
About the PKK terrorist organization's presence in Iraq, al-Ibadi said Iraq's constitution "does not allow attacks on a neighboring country for any reason".
"We conveyed our request to withdraw Turkish soldiers from our territory in the final declaration signed on Bashiqa. Turkish side emphasized that they will respect Iraq's territorial integrity and sovereignty," he said.
Turkey has a longstanding military training mission at Camp Bashiqa, where Turkish soldiers have trained both Peshmerga fighters and local tribal volunteers in combat techniques.
In recent months, the mission’s presence in Mosul in northern Iraq has led to tension between Baghdad and Ankara amid calls by some Iraqi lawmakers for Turkish troops to withdraw.
The Turkish premier is expected to later meet President Fuad Masum and Parliament Speaker Salim al-Jabouri. Regional stability and security are on top of the premier’s agenda during the visit. Steps to strengthen bilateral cooperation and counter terrorist groups such as the PKK, Daesh and FETO are expected to be discussed.