Politics, World, Middle East

Turkey's foreign minister meets Iraqi top officials

Visit of Turkey's top diplomat to Iraq comes amid heightened tension between US, Iran

Haydar Karaalp and Erdogan Cagatay Zontur   | 09.01.2020
Turkey's foreign minister meets Iraqi top officials

ANKARA/BAGHDAD

Turkey’s foreign minister Thursday met Iraqi top officials in the capital Baghdad.

“We evaluated what we could do together to reduce the tension in the region. We emphasized the importance we attach to the unity and stability of Iraq,” Mevlut Cavusoglu said on a Twitter post, following his meeting with Iraqi President Barham Salih.

Cavusoglu had announced his arrival on Twitter: "In #Baghdad to discuss our relations w/brotherly #Iraq and regional developments."

Turkey’s top diplomat is also expected to meet Foreign Minister Mohamed Ali Alhakim and Parliament Speaker Mohammed al-Halbousi.

Cavusoglu’s visit came amid heightened tension between the U.S. and Iran, starting with the killing of an American contractor at a U.S. base in Iraq late last month. But he is expected to hold talks on bilateral relations as well.

Turkey’s Foreign Ministry said in a Wednesday statement that the visit is “within the context of our intensified diplomatic efforts to alleviate the escalated tension in the aftermath of recent developments in the region.”

The U.S. retaliated with airstrikes on the Iran-backed militia it says is responsible for conducting the attack, killing dozens. The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad was then attacked on Dec. 31 by a group of enraged militiamen and demonstrators.

U.S. officials have placed the blame for the attacks on the U.S. Embassy and base squarely on the head of Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps' (IRGC) elite Quds Force, Qasem Soleimani's shoulders, claiming if the airstrike that killed him was not carried out hundreds more American lives would have been lost.

On Wednesday, the IRGC launched more than a dozen ballistic missiles against U.S. military and coalition forces in Iraq.

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said Tehran had "concluded proportionate measures" in response to the U.S. killing of Soleimani, last week, adding that Tehran is not looking for a war with the U.S.

* Writing by Sena Guler

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