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Safa Abdul Hamid

Turkey to help train Iraq's army and police

Relations between Turkey and Iraq are reportedly improving [Anadolu]

Date of publication: 6 November, 2014

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Baghdad and Ankara are reportedly forging a new strategic relationship against the Islamic State group.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Wednesday that Ankara would help train the Iraqi army and police, after a request from Iraq's ministers of defence and interior.

Cavusoglu blamed previous tensions between Turkey and Iraq on the policies of the government of former prime minister Nouri al-Maliki.

"We can say that there is a new page in relations that has started with this visit," he said at a joint press conference with his Iraqi counterpart, Ibrahim al-Jaafari.

Cavusoglu stressed Turkey strongly supported "political unity in Iraq and its territorial sovereignty" and efforts to address threats faced jointly by the two countries. The minister called for a comprehensive strategy to combat terrorism - something he said was lacking in present operations against the Islamic State group (IS, formerly known as ISIS).

It will not be possible to rein in IS through airstrikes alone, he added. He also indicated Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu would visit Iraq soon.

Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari said Iraq's relationship with Turkey had "become strategic because of the common threat from IS, which the people of Iraq are fighting on the ground, shedding precious blood to defeat aggression and safeguard their homeland".

Defeating the IS would require a "comprehensive security-strategic structure," Jaafari said, "to combat it culturally and doctrinally, cut off its sources of funding and to prevent it from entering or training in any country."

Although Iraq and Turkey enjoy strong commercial ties, political differences had strained relations.

Turkey has strong ties with the Sunni community in Iraq, while Ankara has been hosting the former Iraqi Vice-President Tareq al-Hashemi, who has been sentenced to death in Iraq. Baghdad and Ankara also hold diverging views on the Syrian crisis.

This is an edited translation from our Arabic edition.

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