Abadi plans Turkey, Iran visits, reasserts govt troops authority in Kirkuk

FILE PHOTO: Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi attends a news conference in Kirkuk, Iraq, October 14, 2016. REUTERS/Ako Rasheed/File Photo

Baghdad ( Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said Tuesday he was heading for visits to Turkey and Iran, completing a regional tour that included Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt.

Abadi said during his weekly ministerial meeting that the visits to Turkey and Iran would “convey Iraq’s vision of the region’s future”, as quoted by Shafaq News website.

In Turkey, he will discuss “water shares and common borders”, the website quoted Abadi saying.

Iran is the most ardent political and military backer of the Shia-led Iraqi government and the paramilitary troops fighting Islamic State militants. Turkish and Iraqi political stances have also converged over the recent months in rejecting a referendum on independence run by Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan Region in September.

Commenting on the situation in Kirkuk, Abadi said Kurdish Peshmerga troops “cooperated with the federal troops and had not responded to calls for escalation”. He added that “any resistance to the joint {government} forces protects corruption and petroleum smuggling”.

Abadi’s remarks came as news reports told of clashes between Iraqi forces, backed by the Popular Mobilization Forces, on one side, and Peshmerga on the other side in Makhmur, north of Nineveh.

Iraqi troops, backed by Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), took over Kirkuk province from Kurdish Peshmerga fighters earlier this month, fulfilling instructions made earlier by Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi to retake areas where sovereignty is disputed with Kurdistan Region’s Government. The military takeover came after Kurdistan voted in September to secede from Iraq.

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