The President of Turkey is visiting Baghdad – the first time a Turkish head of state has visited Iraq in more than 30 years.
Abdullah Gul was greeted on the airport tarmac by his Iraqi opposite number Jalal Talabani. The visit is seen as a sign of strengthening ties between the two neighbouring countries and another milestone in Iraq’s efforts to end its isolation. The two countries are major trading partners with billions of euros a year in oil and domestic goods passing through the Kurdistan region on both sides of the border. Relations have been strained in the past between Baghdad and Ankara after Kurdish rebels, who use northern Iraq as a base, stepped up their campaign to launch attacks into Turkey. Iraq’s President Talabani, who is a Kurd himself, has calmed tensions about Kurdish separatism recently by saying a separate nation was “impossible.” As well as the Kurdish problem, the two leaders are also discussing Turkish-built dams on the Tigris River which have worsened Iraqi water shortages.