Top UN official in Iraq visits Turkey
At the invitation of Turkish authorities, Staffan de Mistura, the Secretary-General's Special Representative for Iraq, arrived in Ankara yesterday and conferred with Ertugrul Apakan, the Foreign Ministry Undersecretary; Murat Ozcelik, Special Envoy for Iraq; and Derya Kanbay, the country's Ambassador to Iraq.
During the talks, both Mr. de Mistura and the Turkish authorities agreed that in spite of several serious challenges, the “encouraging changes” in Iraq's security situation as well as the “positive developments” in its political process could make 2008 a year of substantive progress, according to a statement issued by the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI).
The Turkish officials welcomed the world body's role in promoting reconciliation in Iraq, its work in promoting regional dialogue and global efforts to help the war-torn nation build a unified and prosperous State.
The UN expressed its appreciation Turkey for hosting the Expanded Ministerial Meeting on Iraq last November and for its support for constructive dialogue, particularly regarding energy, refugees and security.
Both sides voiced their strong belief that today's visit to Turkey by Iraqi President Jalal Talabani “would represent an important step and provide positive impetus for their bilateral relations and for the regional dialogue,” the statement said.
Late last month, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed concern over the latest escalation of tension along the Turkish-Iraqi border and appealed for “utmost restraint” in actions there and for respect of the border between the two countries.