Pictured: Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu in a press conference with Kurdistan Region President Massoud Barzani
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – On his first visit to the Kurdistan Region since assuming office, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said his country would back Kurdish security “with any means.”
“The security of Iraq is important for Turkey as well as that of the Kurdistan Region,” because of the “shared border” and economic interests, the Turkish premier said after meeting with Kurdistan Region President Massoud Barzani.
“We have economic and trade investments in Iraq which amount to $12 billion, $8 billion of that in the Kurdistan region,” Davutoglu said.
“Turkey will provide support through any necessary means for the Kurdistan Region’s security,” he added.
Barzani stressed that Turkish relations with Kurdistan were “close.” The meeting took place with several Kurdish and Turkish officials, including the chief of Turkey’s intelligence agency, Hakan Fidan.
The Turkish premier said that several topics were discussed in his talks, including including humanitarian efforts in the region, refugees and security concerns.
Davutoglu offered his condolences for those killed in last week’s suicide-bomb attack in Erbil by ISIS, which killed six and wounded 29.
In response to whether the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has plans to send additional Peshmerga forces to the Syrian-Kurdish city of Kobane, Barzani responded: “That depends on the circumstances.” He added that Erbil was prepared to send additional forces.
Turkey has been the landlocked Kurdistan Region’s largest trade partner and a strategic ally for controversial oil exports through a pipeline to the Mediterranean port of Ceyhan.
Those relations were severely tested last summer after ISIS forces came close to overrunning the Kurdish capital and Ankara ignored Erbil’s pleas for help. The religious fanatics were beaten back by US airstrikes.