Turkey, Politics

Activity at Turkey-Iraq border Habur crossing ‘normal’

Baghdad’s taking control of Ibrahim Khalil gate is 'good news', Turkey's customs and trade minister says

01.11.2017
Activity at Turkey-Iraq border Habur crossing ‘normal’

Ankara

ISTANBUL

Customs and Trade Minister Bulent Tufenkci on Wednesday said normal crossings continued at Habur border gate between Turkey and Iraq.

The Ibrahim Khalil border gate, also known as the Habur crossing on the Turkish side, is the main crossing between Turkey and Iraq.

Control of the Ibrahim Khalil border gate between Turkey and northern Iraq has been handed over to Baghdad on Tuesday.

Tufenkci said the Baghdad’s taking over of the control of the border gate, which has a capacity of 4,000 crossings a day, is "good news."

"Normal crossings continue at the Habur border gate," Tufenkci said in an exclusive interview with Anadolu Agency. "As of Tuesday, a total of 3,000 vehicles used the border gate."

Speaking at the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party’s parliamentary group meeting on Tuesday, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said Turkish officials will remain in control of the Habur border gate on the Turkish side of the border, while from now on the Ibrahim Khalil gate on the Iraqi side will be in the control of Iraqi authorities.

Northern Iraq's Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) handed over control to Iraqi forces following a Turkish-Iraqi joint military deployment to the border crossing earlier in the day.

Early on Tuesday, troops of both Turkey and Iraq, who have been holding a joint military drill in Turkey’s southeastern province of Sirnak since mid-September, advanced towards the border crossing.

The Iraqi central government has sought to take control of the gate, which has been under the control of the KRG forces, since an illegitimate referendum on Kurdish regional independence on Sept. 25.

The referendum was broadly opposed by the international community, including Turkey, as well as Baghdad, which pointed out that the poll was unconstitutional.

When asked if any deal is possible with Baghdad on opening a new border gate in Turkey's southeastern Sirnak province, Tufenkci said "the developments points out so."

"Iraqi officials also looking to this development positively, opening [of] a [proposed] border gate in Ovakoy," Tufenkci said. "We are also working on it with our Foreign Ministry and other related ministries."

The minister said: "It is important to establish an alternate route, to enhance our trade with Iraq and secure it from threats."

Reporting by Musab Turan:Writing by Satuk Bugra Kutlugun

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