Turkey 'total defender' of Iraq's territorial integrity
LOCAL NEWS

Turkey 'total defender' of Iraq's territorial integrity

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım pledges to work ‘unhesitatingly’ for Iraq's territorial unity, political unity

News Service AA

Ankara will work to protect Iraq's territorial integrity and political unity, Turkey's prime minister said on Wednesday.

Speaking at a news conference with his Iraqi counterpart Haider al-Abadi at the Cankaya Palace in the capital Ankara, Binali Yildirim said Turkey was an “absolute defender” of the neighbor country.

"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," said Yildirim.

Turkey will continue to support Iraq "unhesitatingly in the wake of the slightest development that harms its unity," said Yildirim.

In his remarks, the Turkish premier reasserted Turkey's opposition to last month’s illegitimate independence referendum by northern Iraq's Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) and praised Baghdad's stand in the wake of the poll.

On economic ties between Turkey and Iraq, Yildirim said: “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.”

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'Turkey's support helps'

Iraq’s Abadi, for his part, 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 also praised Turkey’s support for Iraq’s territorial unity and constitutional sovereignty.

“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,” he said.

Tension has steadily mounted between Baghdad and the Erbil-based KRG since Sept. 25, when Iraqis in KRG-held areas -- and in several disputed parts of the country -- voted on whether to declare independence from the Iraqi state.

According to results announced by the KRG, almost 93 percent of registered voters cast ballots in favor of independence.

The illegitimate referendum was heavily criticized by most regional and international actors, many warning that it would distract from Iraq’s fight against terrorism and further destabilize the region.

Last week, government forces moved into several parts of Iraq disputed between Baghdad and the Erbil-based KRG, including the oil-rich Kirkuk province.

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

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