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Turkey urges Iraq's neighbours to back new government
Updated: 2005-04-30 20:59

Turkey urged Iraq's other neighbours on Saturday to support the new government in Baghdad in order to promote stability and keep the country together.

"The national harmony, peace and stability of Iraq is not just a matter for the Iraqis but all of us," Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan told foreign ministers and officials from eight other regional states including Iraq at a meeting in Istanbul.

"The transition administration in Iraq will have a really great burden on its back," Erdogan said. "It is the duty of the international community to support the achievement of peace and stability within the national unity of Iraq."

Ankara has been particularly anxious that communal divisions in Iraq following the overthrow of Saddam Hussein do not cause a split that might leave an independent Kurdish state on Turkey's border, neighbouring Turkey's own big Kurdish population.

The eighth such meeting of its kind in the past two years took place two days after Iraqis formed a first democratically elected government in half a century following three months of deadlock that have undermined resistance to a Sunni insurgency.

Representatives from Iraq's six immediate neighbours Turkey, Iran, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Syria as well as from Egypt and Bahrain took part.

Sunni Muslim-ruled Arab states have some concerns about the rise to power of Iraq's Shi'ite Arab majority and non-Arab Kurds at the expense of once dominant Sunnis. Non-Arab Shi'ite Iran says it wants an end to violence in its big western neighbour.

Erdogan said he wanted to see the United Nations in a@active and visible role in Iraq in the coming months as well as more involvement by the Organisation of the Islamic Conference, the European Union and the Arab League.

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