Iraq, Turkey’s Kirkuk spat continues

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iol news pic Ahmet Davutoglu REUTERS File picture - Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu. REUTERS/Esam Al-Fetori

Ankara -

Turkey's foreign ministry summoned Iraq's ambassador Friday as it called “unacceptable” an Iraqi slam against Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu's visit to Kirkuk, done without approval from Baghdad.

The ministry conveyed to the Iraqi ambassador that “Turkey has no secret agenda” regarding Iraqi internal affairs and called for “utmost care” when delivering reactions, the Anatolia news agency reported, citing unnamed diplomats.

Ankara's move follows an Iraqi criticism of Davutoglu's visit to the city of Kirkuk, a disputed territory in northern Iraq that causes contention between Baghdad and the Kurdish regional government in Arbil.

The Iraqi foreign ministry said Thursday that the visit was a”blatant interference in Iraq's internal affairs,” and that Turkey should be ready for the visit's potential “negative effects on relations between the two countries.”

Ankara denied the accusations, saying Turkey took steps with no ulterior motives, and that the remarks from the Iraqi side were “unacceptable.”

Davutoglu made his trip to Kirkuk while on a visit to Iraqi Kurdistan, whose leaders have long called for the incorporation of the ethnically divided oil city of Kirkuk in their autonomous region in the north, against strong opposition from Baghdad.

The Kirkuk dispute added to already chilly relations between the neighbours, marred by disputes including oil exports by the autonomous Kurdish region to Turkey without Baghdad's approval.

Adding to the controversy, Turkey has for months hosted Iraq's fugitive Sunni Arab vice president, Tareq al-Hashemi, who is wanted on charges of running a death squad and is being tried in absentia. - Sapa-AFP

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