ANKARA, May 16 (Xinhua) -- Turkey and Iraq have deepened their relations and fostered trade, economic and political cooperation during Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi's visit to Ankara amid regional instabilities, said experts.
The visiting prime minister met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday, discussing issues such as Turkey's concerns on the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) activities in northern Iraq and the new border crossing to be established between the two countries.
They also discussed the possibility of increasing the trade volume from 10 billion U.S. dollars to more than 20 billion dollars.
Erdogan said a mutually beneficial military cooperation and trust agreement is also part of their discussion, state-run Anadolu Agency reported.
The defense ministers and intelligence chiefs of the two countries will meet soon to further discuss details of the agreement, he added.
Following the visit of the Iraqi prime minister, a Turkish delegation chaired by Trade Minister Ruhsar Pekcan is slated to attend the Turkey-Iraq Business Forum in Iraq's capital Baghdad.
"Turkey needs a stable Iraq amid increasing challenges in the Middle East and the continuing war in Syria. Iraq for its part needs Turkey's thriving business experience and capacity for its reconstruction after the defeat of the Islamic State (IS)," said Oytun Orhan, a Turkish analyst.
Turkey claimed the biggest share of Iraq's reconstruction bill by pledging 5 billion dollars at the international donor conference held last year.
Orhan, a researcher at the Ankara-based Center for Middle Eastern Studies, pointed out that after several years of ups and downs in bilateral relations, Iraq and Turkey have managed to restore ties on the basis of mutual interests.
The Iraqi prime minister's visit also came as the United States has announced the lift of sanctions exemption for a number of countries importing oil from Iran, including Turkey.
"Energy cooperation with Iraq is crucial especially after Washington's announcement of ending waivers. Ankara is looking for alternative suppliers for its increasing oil needs and Iraq is the most feasible choice given its proximity to Turkey," said Orhan.
To further improve trade deals, the two countries have agreed to open a new border crossing. The existing Habur border crossing, dubbed as "Turkey's opening to the Middle East" and through which 1.6 million vehicles pass annually, has not been able to meet demands.
In a sign of further enhancing ties, the Iraqi government has permitted Turkey to re-open general consulates in Mosul in northern Iraq and Basra in the south as well as to launch a consulate in Najaf. The opening of a consulate in Kirkuk, home to the Turkish-speaking Turkmen minority, is also on the agenda.
"Turkey regards Iraq as one of the key regional partners whose stability and security are essential for peace in the Middle East," said Serkan Demirtas, a political commentator and journalist.
"A strong and stable Iraq will continue to serve as a balancing power in the region, help eradicate terrorist groups and have a stabilizing role in the global hydrocarbon markets," said Demirtas.
He also underlined the important part that Turkey could play in the country's reconstruction efforts.
To further deepen ties, Erdogan will visit Iraq as part of the fourth High-Level Strategic Cooperation Council meeting by the end of 2019.