UPDATES WITH MORE QUOTES FROM TURKISH PRESIDENT ERDOGAN
By Merve Aydogan
ANKARA (AA) – Türkiye and Iraq on Tuesday reiterated their commitment to combat all forms of terrorism.
It is clear that terror groups such as the PKK, Daesh/ISIS, and FETO “pose a threat to both countries,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a joint news conference with Iraq’s Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani in the capital Ankara.
“During our meeting, we discussed all aspects of our bilateral relations. We reaffirmed our determination to fight all forms of terrorism,” he said, adding that their talks focused on Türkiye’s efforts against the terrorist organizations.
“Our expectation from our Iraqi brethren is that they will designate the PKK as a terror group and clear their lands of this bloodthirsty terrorist organization,” Erdogan said.
PKK terrorists have hideouts in northern Iraq, across the Turkish border, which they use to plot attacks on Türkiye.
In its more than 35-year terror campaign against Türkiye, the PKK – listed as a terrorist organization by Türkiye, the US and EU – has been responsible for the deaths of more than 40,000 people, including women, children and infants.
"Türkiye, again, is the greatest defender of Iraq's political unity and territorial integrity," Erdogan said.
Although differences in understanding may arise between neighbors at times, Türkiye and Iraq have always proved that they are determined to solve the issues in line with neighborhood law, he added.
Erdogan also thanked the Iraq government and its people for their solidarity after the two powerful earthquakes that shook Türkiye's southern regions on Feb. 6, and said the premier's visit is viewed as a token of the friendship of the Iraqi people.
On transportation corridor from Türkiye's border to the southern Basra province of Iraq, Erdogan said "We have assigned our ministers who will carry out the work to realize the development road project extending from Basra to Türkiye."
"I believe that we will transform the this project into the new Silk Road of our region," he said, adding that the projects is also strategically important for the entire region.
The Turkish president also affirmed that Ankara and Baghdad share the same sensitivities on further increasing bilateral trade, and the leaders exchanged views on solutions to solve issues that business people and citizens face.
On Türkiye’s water issue with Iraq, Erdogan said Ankara views it “not as a conflict, but an area of cooperation that can serve our common interests.”
“We have decided to increase, as much as possible, the volume of water released from the Tigris River for one month to help alleviate Iraq’s distress,” he said.
Al-Sudani thanked the Turkish president for the decision on increasing water.
In Iraq, 98% of its surface water, which is in the high water stress category, comes from the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.
The country depends on water from the two rivers, which flow from Türkiye and Iran, but in recent years the outflow decreased due to low rainfall.
Al-Sudani said Iraq conveyed to Türkiye its “desire to enhance relations in all fields.”
On the fight against terrorism, he stressed that Iraq will not allow any terror group to use its territory for attacks on Türkiye.
Security concerns can be overcome with improved intelligence sharing, al-Sudani added.