Turkish PM: Iraq ready to support fight against PKK
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, on his first trip to Iraq, said on Thursday Baghdad and Kurdish leaders had offered support in Turkey's fight against Kurdish rebels and that Ankara would assist Iraq's reconstruction dive.
"We received support from Nuri al-Maliki's government and the Kurdistan regional government against the PKK (Kurdistan Workers' Party)," Erdogan told reporters during a joint news conference with Iraq's prime minister Maliki. "The PKK is a threat not only to Iraq and Turkey but to the whole region. We don't allow such organisations to poison the relations between the two countries," he said, according to AFP.
"There is a joint understanding concerning this issue. There is a joint will to remove the organisation."
Speaking after his talks with Maliki, Erdogan also pledged Ankara's support for reconstruction efforts in the war-torn country. "I salute the people of Iraq with whom we have lived together for long. Be optimistic that this difficult situation will pass. Inshallah (God willing) you will find me always beside you to defeat your difficulties."
According to Erdogan, he discussed several issues with Maliki, including the issue of Kirkuk, Iraq's key oil hub and a city claimed by both the Arabs and the Kurds. "We would like to have a joint agreement between all the communities of Kirkuk. We promise to give the people more than they expect and we will be by their side when they need," he said.
A joint statement, meanwhile, said Baghdad and Ankara had decided to form a high level team to address strategic issues, including "supporting the efforts of the Iraqi government in fighting terrorism and preserving Iraq's independence, full sovereignty, territorial integrity and national unity against threats."
The two countries also agreed to prevent the "transit of terrorists and illegal arms to and from Iraq" and emphasized they would work towards "strengthening cooperation to control their common borders... and also expedite opening of new border gates," the statement said.