Ankara – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan received on Sunday head of Iraq’s Kurdish region Masoud Barzani, who is on a visit to Istanbul.
At the entrance of the welcoming lounge at Ataturk International Airport in Istanbul, it was surprising to see the Kurdistan Region flag fly near the Turkish flag when a team from the Turkish Foreign ministry was receiving the Iraqi leader.
Later, a one-hour closed meeting between Erdogan and Barzani took place in Mabeyn Palace on the European side.
The two discussed relations between Turkey and Iraq’s Kurdistan, especially economic and energy ties, the battle in Mosul and Talfar against ISIS, in addition to the presence of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in Sinjar, northern Iraq, according to Turkish source.
On Monday, Barzani is expected to hold talks with Prime Minister Binali Yildirim, the third meeting between the two men since the prime minister visited Irbil last January and the second since their meeting a week ago during the Munich Security Conference held in Germany.
Turkish sources said the war against ISIS in each of Iraq and Syria and particularly the expected battle in Raqqa, were the main topics discussed between Erdogan and Barzani.
Talks also could involve Turkey’s interest in involving members of Syria’s Peshmerga in the war against the terrorist group. Turkish soldiers had trained Peshmerga fighters in camps northern Iraq.
The sources said the issue of Kirkuk’s oil was also discussed during the meeting in Istanbul on Sunday adding that the file would be tackled in details with Yildirim. Kirkuk’s oil is important for Turkey after Baghdad and Tehran have signed a memorandum of understanding about conducting a joint study for a possible pipeline to export oil through Iran from Iraq’s Kirkuk region.
The sources added that Turkey was also interested in the issue of Kurdistan’s independence, mentioned lately by Barzani.
Ankara fears the establishment of a Kurdish entity on its southern borders with Syria. The sources said Ankara was currently coordinating with Barzani to prevent the PKK party from staying in Sanjar and blend with Syria’s Kurds.