* Baghdad says plane did not comply with regulations
* Incident comes amid strained ties between Ankara and
* Baghdad also in ongoing spat with Kurdish north
* Turkish minister says believes incident will be resolved
(Adds Iraqi aviation official, Kurdistan official, Yildiz,
By Orhan Coskun and Jonathon Burch
ANKARA, Dec 4 A plane carrying Turkey's energy
minister to an energy conference in Iraqi Kurdistan was denied
permission to land on Tuesday by the central government in
Baghdad, underlining its strained relations with Ankara and
Iraq's Kurdish region.
The minister's private plane, which was en route from
Istanbul to the northern Iraqi city of Arbil, was forced to land
in the Turkish ciy of Kayseri, southeast of the capital Ankara.
Iraq's civilian aviation authority said it had refused the
plane permission because it had not complied with regulations.
"We haven't forbidden any plane to enter our airspace ...
but we have special regulations and laws which organise the
flight of certain planes," said Nasser Bandar, manager of the
"The UAE, Jordan and Turkey forwarded their demand to get
permission for private flights, and we refused the three
requests as they were not going along with Iraqi laws and
regulations," he said.
The fact that Turkey's energy minister was en route to
participate in a conference on energy in the north would likely
have aggravated the government in Baghdad.
Baghdad, which has been locked in its own long-running feud
over oil and land rights with the Kurdistan Regional Government
(KRG) in the north, has been riled by Ankara's recent moves
aimed at forging closer ties with the Iraqi Kurds.
Ankara and Baghdad have also accused each other of inciting
sectarian tension and have summoned each others' ambassadors in
Turkey, which shares a border with Iraqi Kurdistan, has
increasingly courted Iraqi Kurds as its relations with Baghdad
have soured and while Ankara is a major investment and trading
partner for the whole country, most business is with the north.
Kurdistan has also been taking steps towards easing its
reliance on Baghdad in the sale of its oil and gas, further
irritating the Iraqi government which says it has the sole right
to export oil and gas produced throughout Iraq.
An oil pipeline pumping about 60,000 bpd already feeds
directly from Kurdistan's Tawke oilfield into the main pipeline
to the Turkish port of Ceyhan, and more are due to follow.
Turkey also began importing crude oil by truck from Kurdistan
this year in exchange for diesel.
KRG spokesman Safeen Dizayee said he believed the air
regulations had only been introduced the previous day and hoped
there had been no separate motive behind the move.
"It is new to us, we were not aware of it. We sincerely hope
the reason behind this is actually this technical issue and
nothing more," Dizayee said.
Speaking to Turkish media after landing in Kayseri, Yildiz
said he was in talks with Iraq over the incident and that he
believed the breakdown in communication would be repaired.
"I believe this interruption in communication will be
resolved. I believe our colleagues in the central Iraqi
government will treat this subject with sensitivity," Turkish
media reported Yildiz as saying.
"All our projects, wherever in Iraq they may be, are about
normalising the whole of Iraq. There will be an investigation.
We are meeting with the (Turkish) foreign ministry. I am talking
to Iraq. We will see what comes out of this," he said.
Relations with Baghdad have also been strained by Turkish
air strikes on northern Iraq on bases of the Kurdistan Workers
Party (PKK), a Turkish Kurd militant group. Baghdad asked Turkey
to stop attacking the PKK on its soil after Ankara stepped up
operations following a rise in militant attacks inside Turkey.
The PKK, considered a terrorist group by Ankara, the United
States and the European Union, has been fighting the Turkish
state since 1984 for greater self rule in Turkey's southeast.
(Additional reporting by Isabel Coles in Arbil and Suadad
al-Salhy in Baghdad; Writing by Jonathon Burch; Editing by Jon