The Turkey-Iraq Strategic Cooperation Council held its first minister’s meeting in Istanbul on Sept. 17 to discuss strategies of strengthening bilateral security and economic cooperation and generating greater stability in the Middle East.
A number of ministers from both countries, headed by Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari participated in the policy deliberations.
In a joint press conference prior to the closed-door meeting, Davutoglu said, "We are seeking to enhance security initiatives on a regional level. The Middle East must not return to the age of crises, problems and conflicts." He announced that the meeting's agenda would include the discussion of strategic issues, including security, energy, trade, agriculture, health and public works.
The Turkish minister added that the stability, prosperity and security of both countries are intertwined. In a clear reference to Turkey’s role in mediating the current Iraqi-Syrian dispute, Davutoglu said that "if there is a problem in Iraq, it would be difficult for Turkey to remain uninvolved."
In response, Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari confirmed that Iraq is keen to maintain lines of communication open with Turkey to promote "efforts to map out the future of the region." He praised the country’s role in regional politics, as well as Turkey’s support and humanitarian assistance to the Iraqi government and people after the recent terrorist attacks. Zebari noted that areas for cooperation between the two countries include security, oil, natural gas, water and health.
The talks continued for two days, and a number of practical agreements in the fields subject to discussion were reached. At the same time, the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs is working with the Arab League to sponsor political meetings between Iraq and Syria. The initiative seeks to bridge the gap between the two countries and find a solution to defuse the current crisis generated by the Aug. 19 bombings in Baghdad.
Sources: Iraqi Foreign Ministry statement /