SULAIMANI (ESTA) — Senior Kurdish officials met with Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar in Erbil on Tuesday to discuss ties between Erbil and Ankara.
Akar accompanied by Chief of the General Staff of the Turkish Armed Forces Yasar Guler arrived in the Kurdistan Region on Monday night and was welcomed by Peshmerga Minister Shorish Ismael.
In his meeting with the Region’s prime minister, Akar and Masrour Barzani discussed the latest developments in Iraq and the region as well as further strengthening ties between the Kurdistan Region and Turkey, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) said in a statement.
“We had a productive exchange of views on bilateral and regional security and discussed practical measures to increase economic cooperation, trade and investment,” Barzani said in a tweet.
The officials also discussed an agreement between Erbil and Baghdad to normalize the situation in Sinjar district, according to the KRG statement.
In October, the federal government and the KRG reached an agreement to normalize the governance and security situation in Sinjar.
Kurdistan Region President Nechirvan Barzani also met with the Turkish defense minister.
Barzani said Iraq and the Kurdistan Region “must not be used to pose threats against Turkey and other regional countries”, the Kurdistan Region presidency said in a statement.
The president also emphasized the Kurdistan Region would continue to be a “factor for peace and stability,” the statement read.
Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) leader Masoud Barzani held a meeting with Akar at his headquarters in Erbil.
“Pleased to receive Mr. Hulusi Akar, Turkey’s Minister of @tcsavunma today at the Barzani HQ. We discussed the ongoing cooperation between Iraq, the Kurdistan Region and Turkey and stressed the significance of further strengthening that correlation,” the KDP leader tweeted.
Akar visited Baghdad on Monday and met with his Iraqi counterpart Juma Inad, Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi and President Barham Salih.
Kadhimi and Akar agreed on the importance of addressing “terrorist threats” along their shared border, the Iraqi PM’s office said in a statement.
They also agreed that stability in the border areas “would open the doors for more cooperation between the two countries,” the statement said.
After his meeting with the Iraqi defense minister, Akar said there “are close ties beyond brotherhood between the two countries”, according to Daily Sabah.
“We can overcome the challenges in our region together … We can make our region a center of peace and security. We respect Iraq’s territorial integrity, sovereignty, well-being and welfare. Iraq’s political unity is a must for us. As we have always said, our only aim is to protect our people and our borders, live in peace and welfare within the limits of those borders while defending our rights and interests,” Daily Sabah quoted Akar as saying.
“Cooperation and coordination against the PKK terrorist group play a very important role. We are ready for every possible coordination with Iraq,” he added, referring to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party.
Turkey has conducted numerous ground and aerial cross-border offensives into neighboring northern Iraq to attack PKK fighters, who maintains bases in the region.
*This story was updated at 09:51 a.m. on Wednesday