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Iraq Reaches Water, Energy and Trade Agreements With Turkey


Iraq and Turkey have reached water, energy and trade agreements at the inaugural meeting of a new strategic cooperation council. Senior ministers from both countries have been meeting in Istanbul for two days.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said the council had created a new model of cooperation for the two countries.

Analysts say Turkey's commitment to supply more water to Iraq was one of most important agreements at the two day session.

A severe drought in Iraq has strained bilateral relations, with Baghdad repeatedly calling on Ankara to release more water from its rivers which Iraq depends upon.

Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said the issue has now been resolved.

"When it became clear of the need for water, we undertook to take special arrangement to help our Iraqi friends in this difficult situation we face," he said. "There is no problem between our countries on this issue and no need for new arrangements as there is already an existing satisfactory arrangement."

But Iraq's Water Resources Minister Latif Rashid, while welcoming the agreement by Turkey to increase the flow from the Euphrates River, indicated work still needed be done on a long term arrangement on water sharing. "The shortage of water in Iraq, has effected environment, has effected drinking water, has effected agriculture and livelihood of Iraq people. In this meeting we had very successful meeting because we have promised to increase the flow in the Euphrates for a season which go through agriculture. That will help us to pass through this critical situation and I hope the following years to be in a better position to come to make some permanent arrangement with our partners in Syria and Turkey," he said.

At the meeting agreements were also signed to enhance trade between the two countries.

Iraqi Foreign Minster Hoshyar Zebari stressed the important role of turkish businesses has and is playing in the redevelopment of Iraq. "The best investors and companies and risk takers over the last six or seven years have been the Turkish companies, in the worst and most difficult and serious situation and challenges they working under severe conditions in a war zone, intimidation or terror," he said.

But analysts say little progress had been made on the thorny question of security.

Turkey remains deeply concerned about the ongoing presence of Kurdish militants along the border and in particular the Kurdistan Workers Party, the PKK, in Northern Iraq.

The PKK has used Iraq as a base from which to launch attacks against Turkey in its struggle for greater Kurdish rights. Zebari said they were cooperating with Turkey and the United States to eliminate the PKK, but he stressed the militants were operating in a region outside of their control. A second meeting between ministers of the two countries is scheduled to be held in Baghdad later this year.

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