ANKARA, Turkey, Sept. 26 (UPI) -- A Turkish diplomat confirmed that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki was invited to attend a summit for Ankara's ruling Justice and Development Party.
A Turkish diplomatic official who spoke with daily newspaper Today's Zaman confirmed Wednesday that Maliki was invited to the party's summit but not for bilateral talks aimed at improving ties between the two neighbors.
Maliki isn't expected to attend the conference, the newspaper adds. Justice and Development Deputy Chairman Omer Celik told the newspaper the list of invitees wasn't finalized. Iraqi President Jalal Talabni and Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi are expected to attend, however.
Ties between Ankara and Baghdad have soured since U.S. military forces left Iraq in December. Ankara is harboring Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi, who was sentenced to death in absentia by an Iraqi court on charges he operated a death squad in Iraq.
Ankara said it wouldn't hand Hashemi to the Iraqi government. Hashemi, a Sunni, said the charges are part of a political ploy by Maliki, a Shiite.