Maliki visits Turkey for talks on Iraqi govt crisis
In his first visit to Turkey since Iraq's parliamentary elections, which were held seven months ago, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki had talks with top Turkish officials yesterday, discussing his bid to form a government. Before meeting with President Abdullah Gul and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Istanbul and Ankara, Maliki said he was in Turkey for a "short but very significant" visit. Government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh, accompanying Maliki, said the talks would focus on ways to further improve Turkish-Iraqi relations. Turkey is the last stop of a tour of the region by Maliki, including Jordan, Iran, Syria and Egypt. Maliki, a Shiite, has recently won crucial support from Iran-backed, anti-US Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, but remains at odds with some Shiite groups and the secular, Sunni-backed al-Iraqiya bloc that won the most votes in the March elections.