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Nov 20, 2014 8:24 AM

Iraq, Turkey vow to work together against IS group

The Associated Press

BAGHDAD (AP) Iraq's prime minister said on Thursday that his country and neighboring Turkey have agreed on closer security and intelligence cooperation in the face of the threat posed by the Islamic State group.

"We have a key agreement to exchange information and have full security cooperation," Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi told a news conference after talks with his visiting Turkish counterpart, Ahmet Davutoglu. "The Turkish prime minister also wants us to have military cooperation in the face of terrorism and Daesh and we welcome that," said al-Abadi, using the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State group.

Davutoglu confirmed the two sides' agreement on closer security cooperation.

"I can say that Daesh threatens both Iraq and Turkey, but we will cooperate and do everything we can to stand up to terrorism," he said.

About a third of Iraq, which shares a porous border with Turkey, is held by the Islamic State group. Earlier this year, the group declared a caliphate on the large swaths of territory under its control in both Iraq and Syria.

Relations recently soured between Turkey and Iraq over what Baghdad sees as illegal oil exports through Turkey by its Kurdish self-ruled northern region. Al-Abadi said on Thursday the two countries have reached an agreement on the issue but did not elaborate.

He said Davutoglu has made clear to him that Turkey was keen to have "transparent and clear" relations on the oil issue and that Baghdad would be informed of any Iraqi oil exports going through Turkish territory.

Baghdad moved to withhold the 17-percent share of the national budget normally earmarked for the Kurdish region an estimated $20 billion after the Kurds independently shipped oil to Turkey in January. In May, the Kurdish government sold 1.05 million barrels worth more than $100 million at the time in Turkey.

Negotiations between Baghdad and the semi-autonomous Kurdish Regional Government yielded some progress last week after Baghdad agreed to release $500 million in frozen budget payments. In return, the Kurds will provide 150,000 barrels of oil per day for Baghdad to sell.


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