Ankara To Boost Ties With Baghdad
Turkey intends to boost diplomatic relations with Iraq and will send an ambassador to Baghdad next week, according to a foreign ministry official on January 5th.
Ankara had downgraded its ties with its neighbor following the 1991 Gulf War as sign of support of the U.S. and its western allies.
Turkish Ambassador Mehmet Akad will visit Iraq to replace the current charge d’affaires for Turkey in Baghdad.
The ministry official said that: “Turkey has kept and must keep its ties with Iraq at a certain level, because we share the same border.” He added that: “This is a step to improve ties further, even if it is a symbolic [one].”
Turkey had twice threatened to restore full diplomatic ties with Iraq, although Ankara is aware that such a move would upset relations with Washington.
Turkey claims that it has suffered greatly from the sanctions imposed against Iraq for its 1990 invasion of Kuwait, insisting that it has lost as much as $30 billion in the last decade due to the U.N. trade and economic embargoes.
Prior to the sanctions, Iraq was the country’s largest crude supplier and third largest trading partner, and Turkey would like to secure a trading arrangement outside the oil-for-food program similar to the one that Jordan currently enjoys.
Recent months have seen an increase in Iraqi goods smuggled into Turkey, with Western countries pretending not to notice growing volumes of Iraqi diesel fuel heading through northern Iraq to Turkey.
The possibility of improved ties between Ankara and Baghdad follows on the heels of Syria’s plans, announced in November, to restore full diplomatic ties with Iraq.
Relations between the two countries had been severed nearly two decades ago due to tensions over the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq War and Baghdad’s invasion of Kuwait.
Iraq and Syria reopened their borders and resumed limited trade in 1997, and the two countries have reportedly also reopened an oil pipeline closed since 1982.
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)