Iraq slams Turkish FM's Kirkuk visit

The Iraqi foreign ministry on Thursday sharply criticised a visit by Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu to the disputed city of Kirkuk, saying it had not been informed of or approved the trip.

It is a new low for already-chilly relations between Iraq and its neighbour to the north, which have been marred by disputes, including oil exports by the autonomous Kurdish region to Turkey without Baghdad's approval.

"It is not in the interest of Turkey or any other party to underestimate the national sovereignty and violate the rules of international relations and not comply with the most basic regulations in the relations of states and officials," a statement on the foreign ministry's website said.

"All of that was done without the knowledge or approval of the foreign ministry and without going to the official and diplomatic channels to organise this visit," it said.

Davutoglu made his trip to Kirkuk while on a visit to Iraqi Kurdistan, whose leaders have long called for the incorporation of the ethnically divided oil city in their autonomous region in the north, against strong opposition from Baghdad.

Kirkuk province is part of a swathe of disputed territory in northern Iraq that along with oil contracts are the two main points of contention between Baghdad and the Kurdish regional government in Arbil.

The foreign ministry statement termed the visit "blatant interference in Iraq's internal affairs," and said that Turkey should be ready for "the results of this action" and its potential "negative effects on relations between the two countries."

The Kurdistan authorities also came in for criticism in the statement, which said: "We are surprised by the position of the government of the region, which facilitated the visit without the knowledge of the federal government and thereby violated its constitutional responsibilities."


 

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