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Ankara Proposes an Alternative Border Gate to Baghdad | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Trucks are pictured after crossing the border between Iraq and Turkey as vehicles wait in line to pass Habur border gate near Silopi, Turkey, September 25, 2017. REUTERS/Umit Bektas

Sulaymaniyah, Ankara — Ankara plans to open an alternative border gate to replace the currently used Habur gate with Iraq’s Kurdistan and has asked Baghdad on Friday to help take the needed measures to prepare the new crossing border.

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said that if Baghdad decides to close all the borders, Turkey would respect the decision.

“We have proposed opening the new Ovakoy gate, west of currently used Habur gate, to Baghdad and we are expecting their support. We will be happy to discuss this with (Iraqi Prime Minister Haider) al-Abadi,” Yildirim told reporters.

The prime minister added that Turkey’s new proposal aims to prevent any harm to the economic activities in the north of Iraq.

For his part, Ambassador Hisham al-Alawi told reporters on Friday at a news conference in Ankara that his country would use force if necessary to secure the crossing, adding that the military drills are a preparation for this.

“We are also mulling the possibility of opening a new border crossing,” he added, with a view to raising the volume of bilateral trade.

Al-Alawi said Yildirim would soon visit Baghdad, and that both governments should benefit from face-to-face meetings.

Meanwhile, the body of former Iraqi president Jalal Talabani was laid to rest on Friday in the Kurdish city of Sulaymaniyah in the presence of tens of thousands of mourners including Iraqi officials and Iranian Foreign minister Moahmmed Javad Zarif.

Talabani died in Germany on Tuesday. His body left Berlin Friday morning.

The referendum on independence held last Sept. 25 in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region reigned on the funeral.

On the sidelines of the funeral procession, Zarif said Friday that the recent independence referendum of Iraq’s Kurdistan region was a “strategic mistake.”

However, the Iranian foreign minister said that his country does not blame the Kurdish people for the mistake made by some of their leaders, he was quoted by the Foreign Ministry’s website.