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Maliki: Ankara failed to split away Kurds

Dec. 31, 2012 at 4:09 PM

BAGHDAD, Dec. 31 (UPI) -- Turkey has unsuccessfully tried to split Iraq into Arab and Kurdish camps, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki charged Monday.

Maliki made the claim during an interview with Someria TV in Iraq, alleging Ankara was interfering in Iraq's domestic affairs, Today's Zaman reported.

Maliki said Turkey had made a deal with leaders of Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region in which ethnic Turks in Kirkuk would not oppose a claim by Kurds that Kirkuk belonged to them.

Iraq and Turkey also are on opposite sides of the Syrian conflict, with Turkey supporting the opposition and Iraq opposed to calls for President Bashar Assad to step down.

The bad feelings between Turkey and Iraq threaten not only trade between the two countries, but Turkish businessmen living in Iraq, warned Ercument Aksoy, chairman of the Turkish-Iraqi Business Council at the Foreign Economic Relations Board.

"The possibility of an attack against Turkish businesspeople is real, as was the case for Turkish truck drivers in the past," he said.

"Turkey should take steps to ease the tension with the Iraq central government. Otherwise, the tension may well hit Turkey's exports and businesses in Iraq," Aksoy said.

Diplomatic relations between the countries sank in the past week when Iraq denied a plane carrying Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz permission to land. Yildiz was on his way to attend a conference in Arbil.

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