ANKARA – Turkish Daily News
Though there have been improvements in ties with the regional Iraqi Kurdish administration, no high-level meeting has been planned with Kurdish leaders during Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's scheduled visit to Iraq in the coming days.
“No meeting with Barzani is envisaged,” a high-level Turkish diplomat told the Turkish Daily News on the condition of anonymity, alluding to both Massoud Barzani, the president of the Kurdistan Regional Administration and Nachirvan Barzani, the prime minister of the semi-autonomous regional government.
Due to security reasons, the timing of Erdoğan's visit is not expected to be announced until the last minute. But diplomats say that he might visit the war-torn country this week if Baghdad gives an all clear for prevailing security conditions.
Erdoğan is set to meet both Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and other high-level Iraqi officials. The main course of talks is composed of the fight against terrorism, boosting economic and trade ties and deepening energy cooperation through issuing more drilling licenses to Turkish companies.
Iraqi Kurdish groups were also expecting a meeting with Erdoğan, in a move to ease strained ties between the two parties due to the Turkish military's cross-border operations into northern Iraq to eliminate the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK.
Ankara accuses the Iraqi Kurdish authority of harboring the PKK terrorists and not contributing in its fight against the terrorists. According to Turkish diplomats, there has been some progress in the Iraqi Kurds' attitude against the PKK but it is not sufficient.
Joint communiqué to be published
During the meeting, the two prime ministers are expected to launch a new mechanism titled “High Level Strategic Dialogue” to better coordinate ties between the countries in the future. The mechanism, which will be co-chaired by the two prime ministers, will also include several ministers from both sides. After the talks a separate final statement is also expected by the two prime ministers. The statement is expected to specify a new communication channel between interior, foreign and energy ministries of the two countries.
Embassy area to be expanded
Meanwhile, Erdoğan will also request a piece of land in Baghdad's Green Zone where diplomatic missions are located. Diplomats say Turkey's current embassy building is not sufficient for carrying out diplomatic and consular activities. During the meeting Turkey's intension to open a consulate in the southern Iraqi town of Basra will also be discussed.