Turkish defense chief visits northern Iraq

By Sarp Ozer

ERBIL, Iraq (AA) – Turkey's top defense official on Tuesday held separate meetings with Masrour Barzani, the prime minister of northern Iraq's Kurdish Regional Government (KRG), and the former president of the region, Masoud Barzani.

Turkish National Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, along with the country's Chief of General Staff Gen. Yasar Guler, went to Erbil, the capital of the KRG in northern Iraq, late Monday after his official visit to the Iraqi capital Baghdad.

On his first stop, Akar met with Masoud Barzani, also the leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party.

During the meeting, the two sides discussed regional security.

Important successes have been achieved against the Daesh/ISIS terrorist organization in Iraq, Akar noted.

Akar also expressed his belief that the two countries will gain very important successes also in fighting other terrorist organizations.

“We must further strengthen our cooperation and stand together resolutely against the PKK terrorist organization,” he stressed.

Turkey is aiming to eliminate PKK terrorists in the region to ensure its border security and live in peace and prosperity with its neighbors, he added.

Later, Akar and Guler met with Masrour Barzani at the Iraqi Prime Ministry.

Turkish officials arrived in the Iraqi capital for an official visit on Monday, Turkey's National Defense Ministry announced.

Akar and Guler met with senior Iraqi officials in Baghdad, including President Barham Salih, Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi, Defense Minister Jouma Anad, and Interior Minister Othman Al-Ghanimi.

Combating terrorism was the main focus of discussions during the visit, as well as a joint cooperation between Turkey and Iraq, said a ministry statement.

In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK — listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the US, and EU — has been responsible for the deaths of nearly 40,000 people, including women, children, and infants.

*Writing by Zehra Nur Duz in Ankara.