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Yildirim, Abadi Agree on Bashiqa Camp | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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A handout picture released by the Iraq Prime Minister’s Press Office on January 7, 2017, shows Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi (R) meeting with his Turkish counterpart Binali Yildirim in the capital Baghdad. (AFP Photo)

Ankara- As Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi announced on Saturday that an agreement was reached with his Turkish counterpart Binali Yildirim concerning the withdrawal of Turkish forces from the Bashiqa camp north Mosul, Turkey’s Prime Minister asserted that his forces would only withdraw when security would prevail.

In a joint press conference held with Abadi in Baghdad, Yildirim said: “The decision to withdraw our forces from northern Iraq would be taken later.”

The Turkish prime minister said, “Iraq’s sovereignty is very important to us,” describing Turkey’s military presence in northern Iraq as “not arbitrary, but a necessity.”

Turkey’s Hurriyet newspaper quoted a Turkish official as saying that Ankara had suggested negotiations on the camp to resume in one year.

Speaking after the 3rd Turkey-Iraq High-Level Strategic Cooperation Council meeting on Jan. 7, Abadai said: “We conveyed our request to withdraw Turkish soldiers from our territory in the final declaration signed on Bashiqa.

The Turkish side emphasized that they will respect Iraq’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.”

The presence of 600 Turkish soldiers in the Bashiqa area in northern Iraq caused a rift between Turkey and Iraq, after the Iraqi parliament issued a decree for the withdrawal of Turkish troops from the camp.

Turkish sources said that during his meeting with Yildirim on Saturday, Abadi reiterated Iraq’s request that Ankara withdraws its forces from Bashiqa.

But, it seems there is an agreement on several points that drive Ankara’s fears and cause tension with Baghdad.

Yildirim noted on Saturday: “The government in northern Iraq and also the Iraqi central government have promised us that they will not differentiate between one terrorist organization and another. We are thankful to both governments for their sensitivity in fighting terrorist organizations and for their seriousness in expelling terrorist organizations in Sinjar, and we are prepared to cooperate with both governments to fight terrorist organizations.”

Separately, Iraqi forces were now 500 meters from the Fourth Bridge that links the Tigris River to the depth of south Mosul, the spokesman for the Counter-Terrorism Service said Saturday.