Erdo?an says Turkey to make Mesopotamia prosperity region

TODAY’S ZAMAN WITH AP
?STANBUL

On the first day of his two-day official visit to Iraq, Erdo?an met his Iraqi counterpart Nouri al-Maliki on Monday in Baghdad.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdo?an said on Monday that Turkey’s vision is to transform Mesopotamia into a stable and high-prosperity region.
“Increasing cooperation between Turkey and Iraq in all fields is of key importance for the stability and welfare of the entire region,” Erdo?an told reporters before flying to Baghdad Monday afternoon.  “Our aim is to turn the Mesopotamian basin into a joint area of stability and welfare through a wide spectrum of projects, from energy to trade, from health to construction and from water resources to transportation,” he said.
“Turkey will continue to support Iraq. We put a lot of effort into improving bilateral relations in many areas with Iraq. In this framework, Turkey and Iraq signed 48 memoranda of understanding for a more comprehensive economic integration during my visit to Iraq on Oct. 15, 2009,” Erdo?an said. “Turkey has been pursuing an open and sincere foreign policy towards Iraq over the past eight years. We tried to provide support to ease the pains of our Iraqi brothers,” he added.
During the visit Erdo?an plans to meet with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, Parliament Speaker Usama al-Nujayfi and Massoud Barzani, the head of the regional administration in Northern Iraq. Erdo?an said that he will also be inaugurating Turkey’s Consulate General in Irbil, the Irbil International Airport, constructed by Turkish companies, and Turkish Vak?fbank’s Irbil branch.
Erdo?an is also expected to meet with one of Shiite Islam’s top spiritual leaders to discuss the crackdown on Shiite protesters in the Gulf nation of Bahrain.

Foreign Trade Minister Zafer Ça?layan, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davuto?lu and Energy and Natural Resources Minister Taner Y?ld?z are accompanying Erdo?an during his two-day visit to Iraq covering Baghdad, Najaf and Irbil.

During a previous meeting with Iraqi Minister of Housing and Development Muhammed al-Darraji, Ça?layan had highlighted that there are over 260 Turkish contractors presently operating in Iraq on projects valued at nearly $11 billion. Turkey has a high-level strategic cooperation council with Iraq, whose first meeting was convened with the participation of both countries’ prime ministers in October 2009. Ça?layan also added that Turkey is planning to increase its trade volume with Iraq to $12 billion by the end of this year from last year’s $7.4 billion. Iraq was the second biggest importer of Turkish goods with $732.6 million in 2010.


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