Iraq Welcomes First Turkish Ambassador to Baghdad since Gulf War
Iraq on Friday welcomed the decision by Turkey to name an ambassador to Baghdad for the first time since the Gulf War, saying it hoped to see an increase in bilateral cooperation in various fields.
While receiving the credentials of Ambassador Mehmet Akat, Iraq's Foreign Minister Mohammad al-Sahhaf said his ministry was "ready to accord all facilities to the Turkish diplomat to guarantee the success of his mission."
Quoted by the official INA news agency, Sahhaf said: "Iraq welcomes the Turkish decision and hopes to increase bilateral cooperation in various fields to serve the interests of the two neighboring peoples."
On January 5, Ankara named Akat, an expert on Turkish-Iraqi relations who previously served in the Turkish embassy in London, to the post. He replaces charge d'affaires Selim Karaosmanoglu, who has been at his post for the past several years.
Turkey, which backed western nations in the 1991 Gulf War, has not had ambassador in Iraq since the conflict, but it has previously spoken out against the crippling decade-old sanctions imposed on Baghdad for its 1990 invasion of Kuwait.
Turkey is also mulling the idea of opening a second border gate to Iraq, while both countries have already agreed to open a rail link, running through Syria.
Iraq, on the other hand, often criticizes Turkey for its incursions into the Kurdish-held north of the country to hunt Turkish Kurd rebels and for allowing western planes to use a base in southern Turkey to patrol northern Iraq.
Some 40 British and US planes are deployed at Incirlik airbase to monitor the northern no-fly zone imposed on Iraq after the Gulf War to protect the region's Kurdish population.
Baghdad does not recognise the northern no-fly zone, nor a similar exclusion zone in the south of the country aimed at protecting the Shiite Muslim population. Neither is authorized by any specific United Nations resolution -- BAGHDAD (AFP)
© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)