Iraq says deal reached over Bashiqa, Turkey says issue will be solved

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said on Saturday an agreement had been reached with Turkey over an Iraqi demand that Turkish forces withdraw from the Bashiqa camp near Mosul in the north of the country, Iraqi state TV reported.

However, a joint communique issued after Abadi met his Turkish counterpart Binali Yildirim in Baghdad did not refer to any such deal, but said both sides stressed that Bashiqa was an Iraqi camp.

Turkish forces have been stationed in Bashiqa since before a recent offensive against Islamic State in northern Iraq.

Iraqi state television said Turkey had pledged to “respect the sovereignty of Iraq” and that Baghdad and Ankara agreed not to interfere in each other’s domestic affairs.

Iraq and Turkey came to blows in October over the continued presence of Turkish forces in Bashiqa and elsewhere in northern Iraq, with each government summoning the other’s ambassador just as the U.S.-backed campaign to drive IS out of Mosul was set to begin.

At a news conference with Abadi, Turkish Prime Minister Yildirim said: “We discussed the issue of Bashiqa.”

“We see that significant progress is being made in cleansing Daesh from the region. In line with this, we will solve this (Bashiqa) subject somehow in a friendly way.”

Reporting by Ahmed Rasheed and John Davison; Editing by Dale Hudson and Susan Thomas