Turkey talks to Iran, US to press Iraqi PM

Turkey has been in talks with Iraqi, Iranian and U.S. officials, reflecting Iraqi Sunni politicians’ concerns over Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s new offensive against a leading Sunni Iraqi minister.

The Turkish capital aims to inspire the related parties to calm mounting ethnic and sectarian tension in the wake of the ongoing crisis over Sunni Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi.

Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu had phone conversations last week with Iraqi Finance Minister Rafia al-Issawi as well as with Iraqi Parliamentary Speaker Osama al-Nujaifi, and spoke to Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi several times, along with contacts with U.S. officials over the arrest of al-Issawi’s bodyguards, a Turkish diplomat said.

Ankara’s involvement in the issue came upon a telephone call initiated by al-Nujaifi when the crisis erupted last week. Accusing Shiite al-Maliki of a political crackdown after troops raided the finance minister’s office and home, al-Nujaifi sought Ankara’s intervention by holding talks with the related parties.

Seeking to calm the tension, Ankara contacted both the U.S. and Iran, while Davutoglu urged al-Issawi, member of the Sunni-backed Iraqiya bloc, to stay calm.

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