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Turkey halts troop deployment to Iraq but will not withdraw

Turkey has announced that it would halt the deployment of further troops to northern Iraq for the time being. But soldiers already in the territory would remain there.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told his Iraqi counterpart Ibrahim al-Jaafari during a phone call that Turkey's presence in northern Iraq was aimed at contributing to Iraq's fight against the self-declared "Islamic State" (IS), according to reports by the Reuters news agency.

Foreign ministry spokesman Tanju Bilgic told reporters that Cavusoglu respected Iraq's territorial integrity, which according to Reuters was reiterated in the call between the two foreign ministers. Turkey has halted the deployment of troops to the area for the time being but said it would not withdraw troops already there.

Baghdad had asked for the withdrawal of Turkish troops deployed near the city of Mosul, which is currently held by IS.

Prime Minister to travel to Iraq

Reuters reported that in a separate development, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said he planned to visit Baghdad soon to de-escalate the row. Iraq's foreign ministry had earlier called the situation a "hostile act."

He stressed, however, that those, who regarded Turkey's involvement in the region as anything other than providing protection against attacks from IS were involved in "deliberate provocation."

ss/jil (Reuters)

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