Friday, August 03, 2007

Maliki to visit Turkey, Iran next week

Above: Prime Minister Maliki met with Iranian President Ahmadinejad in Tehran in September of last year. Al-Maliki's Dawa Party is closely allied with Iran, and he lived in Iran for a period as a Shia exile. But in April, Iran refused to allow the Iraqi prime minister to fly across its airspace as he was flying to Tokyo. Both Turkey and Iran have recently shelled Kurdish fighters in Iraq.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki will visit Iran and Turkey next week to discuss security issues and the need for cooperation amid tensions with both countries.

The Shiite leader will lead a delegation to Turkey on Tuesday and to Iran the next day "to discuss the bilateral relations between Iraq and these two countries in the political, economic and security fields," government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said...

Al-Maliki is likely to focus on persuading Turkey not to stage an incursion into the Kurdish north. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who invited al-Maliki last month, warned the Turkish military would act if the United States and Iraqi leaders failed to stem the Kurdish guerrillas operating from bases in northern Iraq.

The trip to Iran will be al-Maliki's second since taking office in May 2006. He has appealed to the close ally of his Shiite-led government for help in calming violence and developing Iraq's troubled oil industry.

Read the rest at the Washington Post