Turkmen leader: Diplomacy needed to end Iraq-Turkey row

– Erset Salihi says PKK presence in Iraq disturbing Turkmen people
– Problems between Iraq and Turkey should be solved diplomatically, an Iraqi Turkmen leader said on Friday.Speaking at a press conference in Baghdad, Erset Salihi, leader of the Iraqi Turkmen Front said Iraq’s ties with neighboring countries are crucial, reported Anadolu Agency.

“It’s important for us that the recent problems between Ankara and Baghdad should be solved in diplomatic ways and Iraq has peaceful relations with its neighbors,” Salihi said, citing the presence of Turkish troops at the Bashiqa camp in northern Iraq.

Salihi noted that protecting Iraq’s sovereignty was the priority and added: “Some statements have translation mistakes, which caused them to lose touch with the reality. Engaging in the official channels and the dialog between the two countries is important for us.”

“Turkmen people can serve as a bridge between Iraq and Turkey,” according to Salihi who went on to say Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Turkish leaders has never discriminated between Turkmen people as Shia and Sunni.

“Turkey had the [Shia] people injured in the explosion in Amirli and the chemical attack in Tuz Khurmatu, treated. Beside Turkmen people, Turkey also helped for the treatment of Shabak and Yazidis,” he said.

Salihi underlined that the PKK terrorist group’s  presence in Iraq is disturbing Turkmen people.

“PKK is in Sinjar town in Mosul as well. The presence of PYD along with PKK has been damaging the ties between Iraq and Turkey as well as the national security of the neighboring countries.”

“As the Mosul operation steps up, the central government should understand our concerns. PKK can reach until Tal Afar.”

In mid-2014, Daesh captured Mosul — Iraq’s second largest city — along with vast swathes of territory in the country’s northern and western regions.

In recent months, the Iraqi army has managed to retake much territory. Nevertheless, Daesh remains in firm control of Mosul, which Iraqi officials have vowed to recapture by year’s end.

Last December, Turkey sent 150 troops and about two dozen combat tanks to Camp Bashiqa, located 12 kilometers (7 miles) northeast of Mosul.

The deployment — which has been criticized by some Iraqi politicians — was meant to provide protection to Turkish military personnel tasked with training Iraqi volunteers to fight Daesh.