World Bulletin / News Desk
Turkey and Iraq said on Friday their strained relations were improving and they would cooperate more closely to limit the spillover from Syria's civil war.
The two countries' dealings have been tense in recent years, not least because of Turkey's deepening ties with northern Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan region, locked in a dispute with the federal government over oil and land rights.
"Over the past two years our relations have gone through a bit of a problematic time," Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari told a joint news conference with his Turkish counterpart Ahmet Davutoglu during a visit to Ankara.
"But the time has come for us to close this page and open a new one. Even though we still have certain disagreements, we don't have any problems that are not solvable."
The war in Syria, which borders both Turkey and Iraq, has drawn volunteer fighters from across the region and beyond into battle against President Bashar al-Assad's government and has nourished the revival of al Qaeda in Iraq.
Al Qaeda's Syrian and Iraqi wings merged this year to form the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), which has mounted attacks in Syria and Iraq and has taken territory in northern Syria close to the border with Turkey in recent weeks.
Davutoglu said Syria had dominated the discussions with Zebari and the two had agreed on a formal mechanism for more intensive talks between their governments.
"We are the two countries that are the most deeply affected by developments in Syria," Davutoglu said.
He will visit Baghdad in the first half of November, his first visit to the Iraqi capital since March 2011. Asked if Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki planned to visit Turkey, Zebari said he hoped relations would continue on a more senior level but he gave no date for any visit.
Iraq has been particularly angered by Turkey's involvement in the autonomous Kurdistan region's oil and gas industry.
Another source of tension has been the presence in Turkey of fugitive Iraqi Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi, sentenced to death in Baghdad on charges of running death squads.
Hashemi, who fled to Turkey last year, has denied the charges nd accused Maliki, of mounting a political witch-hunt against opponents.Last Mod: 25 Ekim 2013, 15:32