Iraqi PM asks NATO to press Turkey to pull troops from north Iraq
Iraq asked NATO on Tuesday to put pressure on alliance member Turkey to withdraw its troops immediately from northern Iraq after Ankara said it would not deploy any more but refused to pull out those already there.
Ankara: Iraq asked NATO on Tuesday to put pressure on alliance member Turkey to withdraw its troops immediately from northern Iraq after Ankara said it would not deploy any more but refused to pull out those already there.
The arrival of a heavily armed Turkish contingent near the frontline close to Mosul has added yet another controversial deployment to a war against Islamic State that has drawn in most of the world`s major powers.
"NATO must use its authority to urge Turkey to withdraw immediately from Iraqi territory," Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said in a statement, posted after a 48-hour deadline set by Baghdad for a withdrawal of the troops expired.
Abadi spoke with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg by telephone, the statement added, calling the deployment a violation of Iraq`s sovereignty.
Russia, already furious with Ankara after the Turkish airforce shot down one of its jets flying over Syria last month, said it considered the Turkish force`s presence in Iraq illegal.
Ankara says its troops are in Iraq to train Iraqi forces. "Training at this camp began with the knowledge of the Iraqi defence ministry and police," Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told a meeting of deputies from his ruling AK Party.
The foreign ministry said Turkey had stopped the deployment two days ago due to the "sensitivities" of Iraqi authorities.
Baghdad has denied it knew about the mission. Russia has asked the United Nations Security Council to hold closed-door discussions, due later on Tuesday, on Turkish military action in both Iraq and Syria.
The Pentagon urged Turkey and Iraq to resolve the issue diplomatically, and noted the Turkish deployment was not part of a U.S.-led coalition battling the Islamic State.
"We just encourage both sides to resolve their differences here, whatever disagreements there may be," Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said at a news briefing on Tuesday.
In a phone conversation with his Iraqi counterpart late on Monday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu emphasised Ankara`s respect for Iraq`s territorial integrity, spokesman Tanju Bilgic told reporters.
"He (Cavusoglu) said that our activities aimed to contribute to the struggle against Daesh (Islamic State) in Iraq and reiterated that the deployment had stopped," Bilgic said. "There is no withdrawal at the moment, but the deployment has stopped."
Davutoglu said he wanted to visit Baghdad soon to calm the row, saying the troops were intended to protect the training mission against attack by Islamic State.
"Those who make different interpretations of the Turkish military presence in Mosul are involved in deliberate provocation," he told the deputies.