Turkey Welcomes Iran Mediation in Iraq Dispute

Turkey Welcomes Iran Mediation in Iraq DisputeTurkey Welcomes Iran Mediation in Iraq Dispute

Turkey's top diplomat welcomed the announcement by Iranian officials that they are ready to help settle differences between Turkey and Iraq, as tensions between Ankara and Baghdad appear to be at boiling point.

The diplomatic row between Turkey and Iraq started early October, with Turkish leaders saying the country must take part in the large offensive to retake the Iraqi northern city of Mosul from the self-styled Islamic State terrorist group.

Iraqi officials refused any Turkish role in the offensive and last week, the Iraqi Army, volunteer Shia and Sunni fighters as well as Kurdish Peshmerga forces launched the long-awaited operation to wrest control of Mosul, the last stronghold of IS in the Arab country.

However, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan insisted on his demand, responding to criticism by Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi by saying that he should "know his limits" and "we will go our own way".

"Iraq is Turkey's neighbor and Turkey wants friendly relations with all its neighbors," Anadolu News Agency quoted Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu as saying on Wednesday, thanking Iran for taking positive steps to mend relations between Turkey and Iraq.

The remarks came after the Sunday announcement by Ali Akbar Velayati, the foreign policy advisor to the Leader of Islamic Revolution, that Tehran is ready to mediate between Turkey and Iraq to prevent the eruption of a new war in the region.

Following Velayati's remarks, Deputy Foreign Minister for Asia and Pacific Affairs Ebrahim Rahimpour said on Sunday that "Turkey and Iraq must be interested in our mediation" and "if they ask us, we have no problem", IRNA reported.

Turkey-Iraq relations have been at an impasse since last December, when Ankara deployed hundreds of troops and tanks to a camp in Bashiqa, northeast of Mosul.

Iraq has objected to the entry of Turkish troops, saying they are in Iraq without permission from Baghdad and the unauthorized move is a violation of Iraq's sovereignty.

But Turkey has refused to withdraw them, claiming the deployment was part of a mission to train and equip Iraqi Kurdish forces in the fight against IS.

Cavusoglu, speaking at a Turkish school in Qatar during an official visit, said the Bashiqa Camp has created "unnecessary tensions" and Ankara "continues its efforts to resolve the issue through diplomatic channels."

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