Development road project ‘very strategic,’ says Iraqi foreign minister

The Development Road project is a very strategic project that links Iraq’s Faw Peninsula and southern Iraq, and Basra with Trkiye, and through Trkiye with Iraq, according to Iraq’s foreign minister.

In New York for this week’s UN General Assembly, Fuad Hussein spoke with Anadolu about the landmark project, the fight against the terrorist group PKK, and energy and security cooperation.

‘Trkiye-Iraq Development Road is very strategic project’

On the Trkiye-Iraq Development Road project, Hussein said they have a ‘multidimensional relationship’ with Trkiye.

‘As for the project, it is a strategic project which links (the) Faw (Peninsula) and south of Iraq, so Basra with Trkiye, and through Trkiye with Iraq. So it is really an important project for Iraq but also for the region,’ he said.

Underlining that they are really eager to have Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visit Baghdad, he said doing so will push the relationship further, advancing bilateral ties.

Hussein said Trkiye and Iraq have various fields of cooperate and that he hopes they can advance in areas in which they are cooperating with each other.

‘But there are also some issues. We must deal with these issues together and find solutions for them together. So we need more cooperation on some issues, especially on security issues,’ he added.

Asked about the energy cooperation between Trkiye and Iraq, he said they are determined to find a solution for this through “dialogue and communication.”

‘There are two things: One, Iraq cannot anymore export (oil) in this case. Iraqi Kurdistan cannot, anymore, export through the pipeline which goes through Trkiye to Ceyhan (Turkish port). And the second one has to do with the arbitration case in Paris, (in) which Trkiye is not satisfied with the whole process,’ Hussein said.

‘I think we must sit (down) together and find a solution for both. Either we are going to this linkage, water issues, so the Paris case will not have to do with the pipeline, or if there is this linkage between the issue in Paris and the pipeline and opening the pipeline, so that the ‘Kurdistan’ region can export oil,’ he added.

Saying that Iraq is suffering because the closure of the pipeline means the Kurdish region cannot export about 400,000 barrels a day, he said the price of oil is very high. ‘And that means we, in general, and Iraqi ‘Kurdistan’ especially are losing money,’ he added.

Anti-Iran regime group was ‘placed in 5 refugee camps’

On the latest situation as the deadline for Iran’s relocation of some organizations in Iraqi territory fell on Sept. 19, Hussein said he had ‘a very good and fruitful discussion’ with Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi last week when he was in Tehran.

‘The discussion, part of it was about the deadline and how we are dealing with these groups inside Iraqi Kurdistan. There is a security agreement between Baghdad and Tehran and also cooperation between Baghdad and (the Kurdish Regional Government, KRG, capital) Erbil about how to deal with these groups,’ he said.

Hussein said the Iraqi KRG, in cooperation with the federal government, was able to convince some groups which were active on the border.

‘They had the kind of military activities to convince them to come down, and now they are in kind of refugee camps which have been established; five refugee camps have been established for them, and we deal with them as refugees,’ he added.

Saying that they are committed to the Iraqi Constitution, which does not allow any organization from Iraqi soil to attack neighboring countries, he said: ‘We were able to have this dialogue, positive dialogue and negotiation with the Iranian side, so that they will stop attacking Iraqi Kurdistan, (and) as a result, attacking Iraq.’

‘We understand Trkiye’s concern about PKK presence in areas close to Turkish border’

While efforts are being carried out to strengthen security cooperation between Trkiye and Iraq, Hussein detailed efforts to neutralize the terrorist group PKK.

‘The Iraqi Constitution doesn’t allow any group, any organization to operate on Iraqi soil against any other country. So that means we’ve got a clear position from the activities of the PKK and Iraqi soil,’ he said.

‘So we understand the concern of the Turkish side about having the PKK in these areas close to the Turkish border,’ he said, adding that the Iraqi federal government, the KRG regional government, and Trkiye should reach a plan on how to deal with this problem.

‘So we must find a solution. The only solution is through negotiations and peaceful means,’ he added.

Asked why Iraq did not call the PKK a terrorist organization, he said: ‘We are taking the opinion of the Turkish government into consideration and we are dealing with the concerns of the Turkish government.’

‘So the main question (is) how can we cooperate? I mean the KRG government within the Iraqi government together and with the Turkish government,’ said Hussein.

Saying that there are different ways to reach a solution, he added that they reached a security agreement with Iranians.

‘Let’s discuss this matter with the Turkish side so that we can find a way to deal (with it) security-wise. I mean protecting the security of Trkiye, but at the same time protecting the sovereignty of Iraq. To solve this problem, I think, through negotiations, we can reach an agreement,’ he added.

‘Kirkuk should be city where all groups or components of society live together’

Hussein said he did not try to determine who benefited from recent events in Kirkuk, the KRG capital.

‘I’m not trying to find out who benefited from (them), but I think those who are against democracy, those who are against the coexistence of different components of the society and also components inside Kirkuk must see, as Iraq must stay a city of peace and a city of living together, all groups or components of the society,’ he said.

Noting that Iraqi society must live together, he said ‘those who created these problems were against peace and against democracy.’

Asked if Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani will meet with US President Joe Biden in the near future, he said: ‘An official meeting is not on the agenda. But we are going to have a meeting with (US) Secretary of State Antony Blinken.’

*Writing by Gozde Bayar and Servet Gunerigok

Source: Anadolu Agency