Davutoğlu will meet with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Foreign Minister Walid Muallem and have talks with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, the Foreign Ministry said in a written statement released late Friday.
“The talks will allow us to listen to the views of both the Iraqi and Syrian sides on the latest developments in Baghdad and convey our views to them,” the statement said. “Turkey believes that neighbors should have relations based on mutual respect and confidence in order for peace and stability to prevail in the Middle East. Based on this understanding, we have always emphasized consultation and cooperation with our neighbors with whom we have fraternal ties,” it added.
Relations between Iraq and Syria deteriorated after Baghdad alleged that Damascus was harboring insurgents behind one of two devastating truck bombings that killed 95 people and wounded about 600 in the Iraqi capital on Aug. 19. Earlier this week, Iraq recalled its ambassador in Damascus and Syria retaliated within hours by ordering its envoy back from Baghdad.
Since 2003, tensions -- prone to flare-ups since the time Saddam came to power in 1979 -- have centered on charges from Iraq's US-backed government that Syria, estranged from Washington, has allowed insurgents to stream into Iraq.
Slovenia reaffirms support for Turkey's EU bid
Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu held talks in Ljubljana over the weekend, where he received EU-member Slovenia's firm support for Turkey's EU membership process. During his talks with Davutoğlu on Sunday, Slovenia's National Assembly Speaker Pavel Gantar expressed satisfaction with his country's bilateral relations with Turkey, while pledging the continuation of his country's support for Turkey's EU entry. “Turkey's full membership into the [European] Union will bring in a major power to the EU,” Gantar was quoted by Anatolia as telling Davutoğlu. On Saturday, Davutoğlu had talks with his Slovenian counterpart, Samuel Zbogar. Like Gantar, Zbogar, during a joint press conference following talks with Davutoğlu, voiced Ljubljana's support for Turkey's EU bid while underlining that Turkey has made numerous reforms for its membership process so far. Ankara Today's Zaman with wires
Iraqi politicians have also lashed out at Saudi Arabia for inciting Sunni Islamist insurgents, a charge the kingdom denies. And while Baghdad's relations with Tehran are cordial, the US military complains that Iran arms and trains Shiite militias.
Meanwhile, Iraq's relations with Kuwait to the south are strained as Baghdad chafes at Kuwait's insistence it continue to pay billions of dollars in reparations for former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's 1990 invasion.
Iraq's ties with Turkey, meanwhile, have taken a noticeable turn for the better in the past year, while the same is true of relations between Turkey and Syria over the last few years.
Earlier this month, Davutoğlu stated that Ankara has been planning to establish a joint mechanism with Damascus that will be similar to the High-Level Strategic Cooperation Council established between Ankara and Baghdad. He had already stated that Turkey also wished to improve cooperation between Turkey and Iraq, supported by various mechanisms, to offer a model for other countries in the region.
According to a report published Sunday in Turkish daily Taraf, the situation of Syrian-citizen members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) will also be on the agenda of talks between Davutoğlu and Assad as part of the Turkish government's recently announced Kurdish initiative, which is assumed to include the elimination of PKK members abroad as well. The daily suggested that Ankara will propose launching a democratic initiative for expanding the rights of Kurdish people in Syria to Damascus.
FM to visit Egypt, too
The Foreign Ministry, meanwhile, announced that Davutoğlu will also visit Egypt between Sept. 1 and 3 for talks on bilateral relations and recent developments in the Middle East. Davutoğlu will meet with President Hosni Mubarak as well as with his Egyptian counterpart, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, the ministry statement said, without elaborating.
Turkey, a NATO member and a candidate for EU membership, has in recent years focused on boosting its political and economic cooperation with Middle Eastern countries and sought to set itself up as a broker in regional conflicts. Turkey maintains dialogue with Hamas, which won democratic elections in 2006 and now controls the Gaza Strip despite protests from Israel, which views the group as a terrorist organization.
In his capacity as chief foreign policy adviser to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Davutoğlu had talks with the most controversial political actors, including Damascus-based Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal, and was behind the Turkish-brokered mediation between Syria and Israel.