ANKARA - President Abdullah Gül’s failure to visit neighboring Iraq, due to an ear problem that makes flying difficult, has not prevented high-level visits between the two countries.
Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, a Kurd, will travel to Turkey soon, the Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Burak Özügergin announced yesterday, but he did not specify an exact date for the planned visit. Iraq’s vice president, Tariq al Hashimi, is also expected to travel to Turkey. The Foreign Ministry neither confirmed nor denied the trip. Health reasons are expected to be a reason for the visit of Al Hashimi, who came to Turkey last July for a nose operation. "The more relations with Iraq intensifies, the more visits at every level will occur," Özügergin told reporters at a weekly press conference.
In comments on the trilateral mechanism involving American, Iraqi and Turkish officials to eradicate the presence of the PKK, in northern Iraq, the spokesman said the mechanism would soon be active. "Our determination to end the PKK presence in the north of Iraq was explained to the central government and local officials. We can say an understanding has emerged with the local authorities," he said, referring to the Iraqi Kurdish leaders in the north. "We expect both the central government and local authorities to stick to their commitments."
Özügergin said when necessary, Turkey would continue to take military and political measures in the fight against terror, in compliance with international law. Özügergin also said talks between Greek and Turkish Cypriots should move faster and not be open-ended. "We are pleased to hear Greek officials see slow movement because we also think progress is extremely slow," he said. "The Cyprus issue must be given a time-frame. It cannot remain open-ended," he added.