Turkey enters Iraqi political fray

April 27, 2012 at 11:59 AM
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ANKARA, Turkey, April 27 (UPI) -- Ankara said it is optimistic about the prospects for political reconciliation in Iraq despite a lawmaker's claims Iraq's prime minister should alter his vision.

Iraqi Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr met with Kurdish leaders in northern Iraq this week to discuss political reconciliation efforts in the country.

Iraqi political skirmishes flared up almost as soon as U.S. forces left the country in December under the terms of a status of forces agreement. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki accused Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi of operating a death squad and called for his arrest.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan last week said Maliki had exhibited "self-centered" behavior following a series of sectarian disputes in Iraq.

Maliki replied by describing Turkey as a "hostile state," Turkish newspaper Today's Zaman reported.

Turkish Defense Minister Naci Koru, meanwhile, said Ankara's relationship with the Kurdish government was strong, but there were lingering concerns over Maliki.

"Maliki needs to review his vision of the future," he was quoted by Turkish news service Hurriyet as saying. "We are not pessimistic on this issue."

Turkish authorities have welcomed Hashemi in Istanbul after the vice president left Baghdad when the arrest warrant was issued.

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