Turkish Military to Help Rebuild Iraqi Armed Forces

ANKARA (Hurriyet)–Ankara and Baghdad are preparing to sign a deal to secure the Turkish military’s support in the rebuilding of the armed forces of its neighbor, Iraq, the Turkish Radikal daily reported on Friday.

The proposal came to the agenda after Iraq sought the Turkish military’s assistance with the issues of education and logistics, the daily said.

The countries agreed to sign an agreement on the issue during deputy chief of the Turkish General Staff Hasan Igsiz’s meetings with Iraq’s Defense Minister Gen. Abdel Qader Jassim, Iraqi army chief Babakir Zebari and General Raymond Odierno, chief of the American forces in Iraq, in Baghdad on Wednesday, Radikal added.

With this planned agreement, Turkey and Iraq aim at developing military relations in parallel to recently intensified political ties, sources told the daily.

It is unclear yet whether the preparations for the agreement would be finalized prior to Turkish President Abdullah Gul’s expected visit to Iraq in the last week of March, the report said.

Igsiz also discussed the struggle with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which launches cross-border attacks on Turkey from bases in the neighboring country, during his meetings with Iraqi and U.S. officials, the report said.

Turkey, Iraq and the U.S. formed a joint committee in the northern Iraqi city of Arbil to combat the PKK as part of efforts to boost cooperation against the terrorists. The center includes military and civilian officials from Turkey, the United States, the Iraqi central government and the regional Kurdish administration in northern Iraq.

Turkey, who has long blamed the Kurdish administration in northern Iraq for supporting the PKK, recently intensified its contacts with officials from both the Iraqi central government and the Kurdish administration.

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