Last updated: 7 April, 2012

Iraqi minister holds talks for progress in Turkey ties

A senior Iraqi minister met Turkish officials this week for talks on bilateral ties already strained over a political crisis engulfing neighbouring Iraq, a Turkish diplomat said Saturday.

Iraqi National Security Minister Falih al-Fayyad held closed-door talks in Istanbul and Ankara beginning April 3 with a number of officials including foreign and interior ministers, said the diplomat, who declined to be named.

“That was a planned trip during which bilateral relations, as well as the crisis in neighbouring Syria were discussed,” he added.

The talks aimed to achieve progress in the long-standing political strains between Turkey and Iraq’s Shiite government, Turkish daily Hurriyet reported.

Fayyad conveyed his prime minister’s willingness to repair ties with the Ankara government, according to the report which was neither confirmed nor denied by the Turkish foreign ministry.

Turkish-Iraqi ties have been marred by a political crisis that has stoked sectarian tensions in Iraq.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan angered his Iraqi counterpart, Nuri al-Maliki, by phoning him on January 10 about a standoff with his Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi, who is accused of running a death squad.

As Erdogan warned Iraqi leaders against fomenting sectarian tensions, Maliki accused Ankara of intervening in Iraqi affairs and the two countries have called in each others’ respective ambassadors to express their anger.

Iraq has been mired in political crisis since US forces withdrew from the country on December 18, pitting the Shiite-led government against the main Sunni-backed political bloc Iraqiya.