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Iraqi President Winds Up Visit to Turkey

Iraqi President Jalal Talabani has ended his 2-day visit to the Turkish capital Ankara. The visit came only a week after Turkish forces ended their 8-day incursion into northern Iraq to attack Kurdish rebels. The second day of Mr. Talabani's visit focused on developing stronger trade ties between the neighboring countries. Dorian Jones reports for VOA from Istanbul.

Iraq's President Jalal Talabani spent the final day of his trip fostering deeper economic and trade ties between the two countries. Speaking to Turkish business leaders in Ankara, he stressed the importance of bilateral trade. He said Iraq wants to establish relations in all areas including economic, political and cultural.

With the Turkish-Iraqi border considered the most secure route for trade into Iraq, there has been a substantial rise in bilateral commerce. Turkish contractors have been key in developing the Kurdish controlled enclave in northern Iraq.

Mr. Talabani was accompanied to Ankara by his natural resources minister who held talks with his Turkish counterpart, Hilmi Guler. Projects aimed at carrying Iraqi oil and natural gas to Turkey topped the agenda.

Guler said Turkey wants to be a transit country for Iraq's energy resources.

Turkey is already an energy hub for central Asian oil and gas.

Although trade was a priority for the Iraqi president, security concerns dominated the trip.

Last month, Turkish forces launched an incursion into northern Iraq against rebels of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). Ankara accuses the PKK of using Iraq as a base to launch attacks against its forces.

Baghdad strongly condemned the incursion saying it infringed on Iraq's territorial integrity, but Ankara accuses Iraq of failing to reign in the PKK.

Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, at a lunch for the Iraqi president, repeated those concerns saying countries have a moral obligation to fight terrorism.

Mr. Talabani proposed the formation of a supreme council, presided over by the prime ministers of both countries, to resolve contentious issues.

Although there appeared to be little concrete progress, political analyst Akif Emre says Mr. Talabani's visit was important.

"Politics and psychological side is very important, after the military operation in northern Iraq," he said. "Talabani's visiting Turkey is very important in a diplomatic way. Normalization of the Iraqi government and Turkish government, improving their relationship.

Turkish officials see the Iraqi visit as the start of a warming in relations, but the process is expected to be slow.