Turkish Officials Make Historic Visit to Erbil

Published October 31st, 2009 - 08:48 GMT

Turkey will open a diplomatic
consulate in Erbil, the capital of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI), as part of
the increased political and economic cooperation between the longtime neighbors.

The future consulate was announced by Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmed Davutoglu, who
visited the KRI on Friday as part of Ankara's efforts to end a conflict with Kurdish
rebels based across its southern border. Davutoglu's visit to Erbil was the first by
a Turkish minister to the Kurdistan region and he said he felt right at home.

"It's high time for everyone to take bold steps," Davutoglu said. "Arabs, Turks,
Kurds, Shiites and Sunnis, we will all together rebuild the Middle East."

Davutoglu was joined by Turkish Trade Minister Zafer Caglayan and a delegation of
around 70 officials and businessmen, who were met at Erbil International Airport by
the Kurdistan Regional Government's Prime Minister Barham Salih and Iraq's Foreign
Minister Hoshyar Zebari.

Turkish businesses already overwhelmingly account for the number of new investors in
the KRI since the region was liberated in 2003. To highlight the growing ties,
Turkey announced it would open two new border crossings with Iraq.

Turkish-Iraqi ties have gathered steam since the two nations formed a joint
committee with the United States in November 2008 to discuss and act upon joint
security issues. The committee meets every two months to exchange intelligence and
to coordinate security measures against cross-border attacks and related concerns.

Masoud Barzani, the president of the KRI, hosted a dinner for the Turkish delegation
and praised their visit. "The decision to open a consulate general in Erbil is an
extremely positive development for the region," President Barzani said. "Turkey's
role is important for the future of the region and the future growth of economic
ties. The region of Kurdistan plays the role of a bridge for Iraq as this region is
one with stability."

This has been distributed by Qorvis Communications, LLC on behalf of the Kurdistan
Regional Government. More information is available at the US Department of Justice,
Washington, DC.

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