WASHINGTON, Aug. 10 (UPI) -- The U.S. State Department warns U.S. citizens against all but essential travel to Iraq given security and political issues in the country.
The State Department updated a January warning that followed the departure of U.S. military forces from the country. The warning states that the ability of the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad to respond to the needs of U.S. citizens in the country "is extremely limited."
The warning notes that, while terrorism attributed to al-Qaida has declined, many of the central and southern provinces are still at risk. While the semiautonomous Kurdish north of Iraq is relatively peaceful, U.S. citizens are advised against travel in areas near the Iranian and Turkish borders.
Turkish forces recently conducted military exercises along its border out of concern that militant Kurdish separatist groups may take advantage of the security situation in neighboring Syria. Diplomatic tensions between Iraq and Turkey, meanwhile, have soured since early this year when the Iraqi vice president arrived in Turkey to escape an Iraqi arrest warrant.
Iraqi Parliament Speaker Osama al-Nujaifi was quoted by Turkish newspaper Today's Zaman as saying a reset was needed in bilateral relations.
"There are disagreements in diplomatic relations. Both states have made differing statements," he said. "Relations need new approaches and channels of dialogue."