Turkey ‘absolute defender’ of Iraq’s unity, says PM Yildirim

Ankara: In a display of solid ties with Iraq, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim has said that Turkey is an “absolute defender of Iraq’s territorial integrity and political unity.”

“Iraqis’ joy is our joy, their sorrow is our sorrow. That’s why Turkey is an absolute defender of Iraq’s territorial integrity and political unity,” Yildirim said at a news conference with his Iraqi counterpart Haider al-Abadi, at Ankara’s Cankaya Palace.

As per Anadolu agency, Yildirim also expressed to extend support to Iraq “unhesitatingly in the wake of the slightest development that harms its unity.”

The Turkish Prime Minister reiterated his condemnation of the controversial independence referendum of Erbil-based Kurdish Regional Government (KRG), and praised Baghdad for its stand in wake of the poll.

Conflict arose between Erbil and Baghdad last month when the Erbil- based Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) held a controversial referendum on the independence of the Kurdish region. The vote resulted in more than 90 percent of the Kurds supporting secession from Iraq.

Yildirim also spoke on strengthening economic ties with the neighbouring country, “Turkey is determined to increase investments, and particularly boost the trade volume, alongside cooperating in the reconstruction of terror-stricken areas in Turkey and Iraq.”

In his turn, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi praised Turkey’s support to Iraq.

“The clear support by you [Turkey] and other states for Iraq’s unity and the sovereignty of the constitution and law in Iraq has had a large impact in helping Iraqis end this dangerous case and direction,” Abadi said.

“We are here with a ministerial delegation in order to enhance relations in all fields, including the economy, trade, oil, energy, water, and also cultural cooperation, in addition to political and security cooperation,” Abadi added.

Amid conflict between Baghdad and Erbil, government forces moved into several disputed regions of Iraq last week, including the oil-rich Kirkuk province.

On Wednesday, the KRG -fearing military escalation by Baghdad- proposed to “freeze” the results of last month’s illegitimate poll, halt all military activity, and enter into talks with the central government. (ANI)