ANKARA, Jan 3, (KUNA): Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday his country attaches much significance to Iraq’s national unity and stability as its core policy. “Securing Iraq’s political unity and territorial integrity as well as ensuring its stability and security are the basis of Turkey’s policy on Iraq,” Erdogan told a joint press conference with his visiting Iraqi counterpart Barham Salih.
He added that Iraq standing on its own feet is very important for regional security and stability. On counterterrorism, the Turkish leader considered that groups like the so-called Islamic State (IS), PKK and the Fetullah Organization pose threats to both Turkey and Iraq. Urging concerted efforts to fight terrorism, Erdogan said his country had provided full support to Iraq in its fight against terrorism and pledged $5 billion to Iraq’s reconstruction efforts.
Economically, Erdogan estimated trade exchange between both neighbors at $16 billion last year, hoping that it would skyrocket to $20 billion in the future. On his part, Iraqi President Barham Salih said Baghdad looks forward to a considerable role by Ankara in the reconstruction of terror-liberated areas in Iraq.
He emphasized that it is necessary for his country to have a holistic agreement with Turkey, covering various issues that concern both sides. Salih added that time is now ripe for the region to have stability and security without having to seek the help of others. Turkey’s authorities have detained 3,038 the so-called Islamic State (IS) suspects in 2018, local media said on Wednesday.
Some 408 of them were sentenced and the Turkish forces carried out 130,640 operations against the IS militants in 2018 in several cities. Meanwhile, Turkey’s police arrested 12 people, including two women wanted by French police, in Bursa city upon a request of the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) as they have connections to the IS. Five of the detained may be deported, while measures are to be taken against the others, according to press reports.
Since 2015, IS militants have been carrying out suicide attacks on several Turkish cities, including Ankara and Istanbul, killing 319 people. A US delegation will visit Turkey on Thursday to discuss developments in US investigations into so-called Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), the group behind the 2016 failed coup attempt. The delegation, including FBI officials, will hold talks with officials from foreign, justice and interior ministries in the capital Ankara, Turkey’s Anadolu Agency (AA) reported on Wednesday.
Turkish authorities will be informed about US-based investigation into the terror group during the discussion, which will last two days. Last week, Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul said, “As the state of law, we are hoping for this terror group head to be extradited. In Turkey, death penalty does not exist.
We are saying [to US officials] there is no obstacle for the extradition not to take place.” FETO and its US-based leader Fetullah Gulen orchestrated the defeated coup of July 15, 2016, which left 251 people dead and nearly 2,200 injured. Ankara also accuses FETO of being behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, mainly the military, police, and judiciary.