PM: "If asked, Turkey is ready to help fprm a new Iraqi govt"
Turkey is willing to help Iraq form a new government following months of political deadlock, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said yesterday. "Turkey is in close cooperation with groups in Iraq and their leaders, as we are a country which shares Iraq's joys and sorrows. We will try to help if they ask us to," Erdogan told reporters. Iraqi parliamentarians' failure to establish a new government, coupled with the continuation of uncertainties, not only troubles Iraq, but also surrounding countries, he said. Ankara has been holding a series of talks with the representatives of various Iraqi political groups to facilitate the creation of a government in the wake of March elections there. Two Sunni politicians, Tareq al-Hashemi, Iraq's deputy president, and Rafi al-Issawi, its deputy prime minister, visited Turkey last week. Following their visits, Sayeed Ammar al-Hakim, the leader of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution (SCIRI), a group close to Iran, held talks with Erdogan as well as Turkey's president and foreign minister in Ankara. "Turkey has been playing a constructive role for the last seven months," al-Hakim told reporters, adding that the country has treated Iraq's various groups impartially. Al-Hakim also said that he sees Turkey and Iraq as strategic economic and political partners and that Turkey values Iraq's stability and territorial integrity.