Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan discussed with Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammad Shia al-Sudani bilateral relations, as well as cooperation in combating terrorism, rebuilding Iraq, and enhancing collaboration in the fields of water, trade and energy.
Sudani arrived in Ankara on Tuesday on a two-day visit at the head of a large Iraqi delegation.
Following an official ceremony at the presidential palace, Erdogan and Sudani held a bilateral summit, and continued talks at a meeting attended by officials from the two countries.
On the eve of his trip, Sudani told Al-Sabah newspaper that he would discuss in Ankara cooperation to secure Iraq’s share of water, as well as joint coordination in intelligence and information exchange.
Iraq suffers from a low water level of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. Türkiye and Iran have repeatedly been accused of building dams that further reduce the country’s share from the two rivers.
The Iraqi prime minister noted that his visit to Türkiye was of particular importance, in light of the positive developments taking place in the Middle East region, in terms of strengthening cooperation between countries and mobilizing efforts to achieve economic integration.
“We are looking forward to implementing economic projects in the energy and transportation sectors, and transforming Iraq into a center for global trade between Asia and Europe through the Grand Faw Port project, and the associated economic zones, residential communities and tourist attractions,” Al-Sudani told the newspaper.
He added that the Grand Faw Port would include a dry canal corridor, represented by a highway and a railway extending to the Turkish border, allowing access to the port of Mersin (southern Türkiye) and Europe via Istanbul.
In addition to the water crisis, border control between Türkiye and Iraq dominated the discussions of the Iraqi delegation in Ankara.
Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar met his Iraqi counterpart, Thabet Muhammad Saeed Al-Abbasi at the Turkish Ministry of Defense.
Akar noted that the PKK constituted a common threat to Türkiye and Iraq, stressing Ankara’s respect for the territorial integrity of neighboring countries, especially Iraq, and the determination of the Turkish forces to defeat terrorism and protect the country’s borders.
He also underlined the importance of coordination in combating terrorist organizations, and the need to strengthen cooperation between the Turkish and Iraqi armies.
Iraqi-Turkish cooperation in the field of training, providing military aid and exchanging intelligence information started in late 2014, following the visit of the former Iraqi Prime Minister, Haider al-Abadi, to Ankara. At the time, the Iraqi army was in a state of collapse due to the rise of ISIS.
Around 20 Turkish military bases and headquarters are distributed in the governorates of Erbil and Dohuk, in the Kurdistan region of Iraq. The largest of those is located in Bamarni, north of Dohuk. Ankara says that its military presence in those areas was aimed at deterring the danger of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) to both Iraq and Türkiye.