World Bulletin/News Desk
Iraqi ambassador in the Turkish capital, Ankara, was summoned Friday to the Turkish Foreign Ministry headquarters over latest remarks by Baghdad on Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu's visit in the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk.
Ambassador Abdulemir Kamil Abi-Tabikh was summoned for a meeting with Under Secretary Feridun Sinirlioglu who reportedly conveyed Turkey's uneasiness over "unacceptable remarks by Iraqi officials."
Turkish diplomatic sources cited Sinirlioglu as telling the Iraqi ambassador that Turkey had no secret agenda in its relations with Iraq.
Iraq made a formal protest to Turkey's envoy in Baghdad on Friday after the Turkish foreign minister made a visit to an oil-rich Iraqi city claimed by both the central government and the country's autonomous Kurdistan region.
The episode, the latest in a series of diplomatic spats and tit-for-tat summonings of envoys between the neighbouring countries, is likely to worsen already strained relations.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu had travelled to Kirkuk on Thursday after visiting the regional president in Arbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan.
Davutoglu paid a historic visit in the oil-rich Kirkuk on Thursday, becoming the first senior Turkish statesman ever to visit the city in 75 years.
But Iraq's foreign ministry accused Turkey of violating its constitution with the visit, saying that Davutoglu had neither asked for nor obtained permission to enter Kirkuk.
A junior minister at Iraq's foreign ministry had handed Turkey's charge d'affaires a protest letter on Friday, a strongly-worded statement from the foreign ministry said.
"The note also included a demand by the Iraqi government (for an) urgent explanation from the Turkish government," it added.
Relations between Iraq and Sunni Muslim regional power Turkey, were tested after the government immediately tried to arrest one of its Sunni vice presidents. He fled first to Kurdistan and later to Ankara, where he was given refuge.
Baghdad's Arab-led central government and ethnic Kurdish officials are locked in a protracted dispute over who controls territory and oilfields along their internal border. Kirkuk, which possesses huge crude oil reserves, is one of those areas.
Iraq and Turkey are also at odds over the worsening conflict in Syria. Turkey has become one of the main backers of the rebels, while Baghdad has refused to support calls for President Bashar al-Assad to step aside.
Iraq is Turkey's second largest trading partner after Germany with trade reaching $12 billion last year, more than half of which was with the Kurdish region.
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