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Iraq's Maliki offers olive branch to Turkey

07 December, 2012

ISTANBUL: Iraq's Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said he wanted to improve strained ties with neighbouring Turkey, but warned Ankara in a newspaper interview not to interfere in Iraq's internal affairs.

In the latest sign of worsening relations between Iraq and Turkey, the central government in Baghdad on Tuesday denied permission to land for a plane carrying Turkey's energy minister to an energy conference in Iraqi Kurdistan.

Baghdad has been angered by Ankara's moves to forge closer ties with northern Iraq's Kurdistan Regional Government, which is in a dispute with the federal government over oil and land rights. Turkey and Iraq have also accused each other of inciting sectarian tensions and have summoned each others' ambassadors in tit-for-tat manoeuvres.

"Despite all the problems, we want good dialogue with Turkey. I am extending an olive branch from here," Maliki told Turkey's Hurriyet newspaper in Baghdad.

"Security, oil, trade, culture. We are ready and want to work with you in every field. But do not interfere in Iraq's politics and domestic affairs," he said.

End.

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