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Iraq, Turkey pledge to fight 'all terrorist organisations' in region

Turkey and Iraq share 'common approach' to fighting terror, which includes both IS and PKK militants, says Turkish PM Davutoglu
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu (R) and his Iraqi counterpart Haider al-Abadi shake hands before a meeting in Ankara on 25 December, 2014 (AFP)

Iraq and Turkey on Thursday pledged to join forces to fight Islamic State (IS) insurgents who are holding swathes of Iraq and Syria.

"ISIS threatens not only Iraq's and Turkey's security but the entire region," Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi told a joint news conference with his Turkish counterpart, Ahmet Davutoglu, using an alternative name for IS.

Turkey, a vocal critic of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's rule, has faced criticism for failing to stop fighters pass through its territory to fight in Syria.

Ankara wants a wider strategy for Syria that would ultimately bring Assad's downfall. It has repeatedly called for a buffer zone, backed by a no-fly zone, to be put in place inside the war-torn country on the Turkish border.

"We want absolutely no foreign fighters in Iraq or Syria, whether they fight for the Syrian opposition or for ISIL," Davutoglu said.

"Foreign fighters must not be allowed access into Syria, no matter if they are fighting alongside the Syrian regime or fighting within the ranks of terrorist groups like ISIL, who are outsiders seeking dominance in those countries," Davutoglu added.

Abadi said he expected Turkish support on intelligence-sharing, military training and armaments.

"We can defeat this organisation by uniting all our powers, with the support of the countries in the region," Abadi said, in translated remarks.

Davutoglu said Turkey was already training Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga fighters to combat the IS.

"We are open to any idea" to extend further support to Baghdad, he said.

Turkey and Iraq shared a "common approach to fight all terrorist organisations in the region" including the IS and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), Davutoglu said.

"We are ready to give any kind of support against terrorist organisations including those who have emerged in recent times like (IS) as well as the PKK which launches attacks against Turkey by using Iraqi soil," he said.

"Iraq will not allow any terrorist organization to hurt Turkey's security," Abadi said.

Iraq is battling to retake large areas overrun by IS while Turkey borders territory which the militants control in neighbouring Syria.

The Iraqi prime minister said that Iraqi security forces and peshmerga fighters were "rapidly" pushing out the insurgents from areas under their control.

Abadi's visit to Turkey follows a trip to Iraq by Davutoglu in November -- in a sign of a thaw in bilateral ties which were strained in recent years over a number of issues.

"We want to export oil through Turkey," the Iraqi premier said. "It is in Iraq's interest."

The Turkish premier said that Iraq belongs to the Iraqi people and that Syria belongs to the Syrian people "with all their resources and politics."

Davutoglu said Iraq is one of Turkey's key foreign trade partners, with a bilateral trade volume of $12 billion in 2013.

"We have already surpassed $8 billion to $9 billion in the first nine months of 2014," he said, adding that a joint economic commission meeting in Iraq will take place in January.

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