Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has praised the new and inclusive political atmosphere in Iraq after he met with representatives of different political parties at the Iraqi parliament during his Thursday visit to Baghdad.
"In an extremely friendly manner, we discussed both Iraq-Turkey relations and regional developments, exchanged views and had a brainstorm," he told a joint press conference with Iraqi Parliament Speaker Salim Jabouri at the Council of Representatives building.
The Turkish premier noted that Iraq's latest parliamentary elections on April 30 were held under harsh conditions, along with security and terror threats.
However, he continued, the new parliament still managed to form the current government led by Haidar al-Abadi and appoint both a president and a prime minister.
"It is a success story in the region. In this sense, Iraq sets an example for all other nations," Davutoglu said.
Abadi moved in September to form an all-embracing government aimed at reducing ethnic and sectarian divisions in Iraq.
It was preceded by a month of political turmoil which unseated Nouri al-Maliki and his Shiite-dominated cabinet.
Maliki and his government had been widely criticized for discrimination against ethnic and religious minorities.
In the new Iraqi cabinet under Abadi, 17 ministries were given to Shiites, seven to Sunnis, four to Kurds and one to a member of the Turkmen community.
For his part, Iraqi Parliament Speaker Jabouri pointed out the common values and borders between Iraq and Turkey, saying they would serve to ease cooperation and efforts in the fight against all kinds of terror threatening the region.
Top of the agenda in Davutoglu's talks with the Iraqi central government on Thursday and the Kurdish Regional Government on Friday will be: the threat from the ISIL, relevant anti-terrorism efforts, bilateral relations in general and cooperation in energy and trade.
The Turkish and Iraqi prime ministers agreed to make joint anti-terrorism efforts to restore regional peace and stability through more frequent consultations and open sharing of all security matters, they announced at a press conference on Thursday.
"I do not differentiate the stability, peace or tranquility of Iraq from that of Turkey," Ahmet Davutoglu told the joint press conference with his Iraqi counterpart Haidar al-Abadi in Baghdad.
He was speaking following a private meeting and a subsequent inter-delegational meeting with Abadi at the Governmental Palace, as part of his two-day visit to the southern neighbor country for official talks.
The threat from the terrorist group ISIL, relevant anti-terrorism efforts, bilateral relations along with cooperation in energy and trade top the agenda of Davutoglu's talks with the Iraqi central government and the Kurdish regional government.
"The groups threatening Iraq also pose a threat for Turkey. Turkey has a clear-cut attitude towards all kinds of terror, either ISIL or PKK or those in other forms," he said.
Davutoglu also made a point of the need to make joint efforts with Baghdad in the settlement of the Syrian crisis.
For his part, Iraqi PM Abadi stressed that Davutoglu and he agreed in principle during their talk on "joint intelligence and knowledge-sharing."
"The inter-delegational meetings will continue regarding joint efforts in areas of security and military cooperation. We gratefully welcome the Turkish support for the training of Iraqi security forces," he added.
The Turkish premier sought to give new impetus to bilateral relations, after the work of the Turkey-Iraq High Level Strategic Cooperation Council, established in 2009, was disrupted because of the recent instability and violence in Iraq.
He noted that they agreed to accelerate the council's work, and to hold a joint cabinet meeting in Ankara after a five-year pause to discuss cooperation in transportation, trade and investments.
"The Iraqi Prime Minister Abadi along with a couple of his ministers will pay a visit to Turkey on December 24, 25 or 26 for a joint cabinet meeting," said Davutoglu.
The Turkish premier emphasized that they have initiated a brand new phase in their relations with Iraq in all its political, economic and cultural dimensions.
"We are resolute in reviving our existing areas of cooperation in economics, energy, trade, investments, and agriculture by making a major leap forward," he added.
Davutoglu said Turkey and Iraq are able to create exemplary bilateral economic cooperation if they stand shoulder to shoulder. There is an extraordinary potential to exploit in several fields "as long as there is peace and tranquility in our countries and in the wider region," he said.
Meanwhile, Iraqi PM Abadi invited Turkish companies -- which used to actively work in Iraq but left the country following the ISIL attacks -- to return to Iraq to continue their investments.
He said the Iraqi security forces supported by peshmerga fighters have recently gained ground against ISIL, by seizing full control over Baiji town holding the country's largest oil refinery and have started to repel ISIL militants in provinces like Anbar, Saladin, Diyala, Mosul.
In his meeting with the Iraqi Turkmen Front and Turkmen deputies, he reiterated Turkey's continued support for Sunni and Shiite-origin Iraqi Turkmen.
Many members of the minority Turkmen community were forced to leave their homes in the northern city of Tal Afar amid threats from ISIL.
"All demands of Turkmen people will be met as it is a duty for Turkey to fulfill their humanitarian needs without any ethnic discrimination," Davutoglu said.
After concluding his talks in Baghdad, the Turkish premier departed late on Thursday for the Iraqi Kurdish capital of Erbil to meet regional President Masoud Barzani and Prime Minister Nachirvan Barzani on Friday.
Interior Minister Efkan Ala, Culture and Tourism Minister Omer Celik, Customs and Trade Minister Nurettin Canikli and Justice and Development Party's Deputy Chairman Yasin Aktay are also accompanying Davutoglu during his visit.
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