Turkey concerned by Iraqi violence

Feb. 11, 2014 at 11:44 AM

ANKARA, Turkey, Feb. 11 (UPI) -- The Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Turkey's "most sincere desire" is for a sense of peace and stability to return to Iraq.

The ministry issued a statement condemning Monday's attack on Iraq's Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi, a Sunni Muslim, and other delegates traveling from Mosul to Erbil, the capital of the semi-autonomous Kurdish region of Iraq.

"Our most sincere desire is that instability comes to an end in Iraq and peace, stability and consensus prevail in the country," a ministry statement said.

The ministry said the Iraqi legislators escaped unharmed, though it regretted that separate attacks Sunday left six members of a security team dead in Saladin province.

Iraqi violence has been on the rise since U.S. combat forces left in 2011. U.S. officials last week said they were concerned terrorist groups with ties to al-Qaida were exploiting simmering political tensions in the country.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, a Shiite Muslim, is accused of marginalizing members of the Sunni community. He's running for a third term in office in April elections.

Ties between the Turkish and Iraqi governments are strained. Maliki in 2012 called for the arrest of Sunni Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi, who is residing in Turkey, on charges of operating a death squad.

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