Iraq gives stern warning to Turkey

July 17, 2012 at 2:25 PM

BAGHDAD, July 17 (UPI) -- The Iraqi government reminded Turkey not to violate its airspace or sovereign territory, a spokesman in Baghdad said Tuesday.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki expressed frustration over what he said were "frequent" violations of Iraqi airspace. Turkish daily newspaper Today's Zaman speculated that Maliki was upset with Turkish efforts to take on Kurdish militants who operate in northern Iraq.

"The Iraqi government condemns these violations to Iraq's airspace and sovereignty, warns Turkey against any violations of Iraq's airspace and territory," government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh was quoted as saying.

Three Turkish passenger planes were stranded briefly at the international airport in Erbil, the Kurdish capital in northern Iraq. Today's Zaman reported there was a malfunction in Iraq's radar systems but added there were reports suggesting only Turkish and Saudi flights were delayed.

Ankara was the target of criticism from Baghdad after oil was delivered to Turkey from the Kurdish north recently. Bilateral ties have deteriorated since Maliki in December issued an arrest warrant for Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi.

Hashemi took refuge in the Kurdish-run northern Iraq before leaving the country for Turkey.

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