TURKEY

Ankara ready to work with new Baghdad government

Ankara is ready to work with the newly established government in Iraq, the Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hami Aksoy said on Friday.

"Turkey is ready to work with the new Iraqi government on the issues of Iraq's peace, security, stability and its reconstruction," Aksoy said in a statement.

Aksoy's remarks came a day after the new Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi officially assumed his responsibilities after lawmakers approved his government program and most of his proposed cabinet nominees.

Later on that day, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu congratulated his newly appointed Iraqi counterpart Mohamed al-Hakim over the phone, according to Turkish diplomatic sources.

Abdul-Mahdi was officially sworn in late Wednesday, along with 14 members of his cabinet, after winning a parliamentary vote of confidence.

"We wish the new government to take steps to meet the expectations of the Iraqi people, who have experienced torment and difficulties in recent years," Aksoy said.

Ever since a U.S.-led invasion toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003, power in Iraq has been shared by the three largest ethnic-sectarian groups: Shiite Arabs, Sunni Arabs and Kurds. The country held its latest elections on May 12.

Ma

hdi, a Shiite, was tasked on Oct. 2 by President Barham Salih, a Kurd, with forming the new government. According to Iraq's constitution, he has 30 days to assemble a Cabinet before Salih has to name someone else. An independent who did not run in the May election himself, Abdul Mahdi was chosen as a compromise candidate by the two largest parliamentary blocs.

Following the independence referendum held by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) last September, Ankara-Baghdad relations have been closer, as both opposed the KRG's secessionist aims in the referendum.

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