Ankara in New Row - With Baghdad

Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has managed to infuriate Iraq's prime minister- and demanded an apology instead of giving one.

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Gabe Kahn.,

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
Israel news photo: Senat RP/Polish Senate

Turkey summoned Iraq's ambassador to Ankara to protest accusations that it is meddling in its neighbor's affairs on Monday.

Turkish foreign ministry undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioglu told the Iraqi envoy on Monday that charges of interference were "unacceptable" and Turkey had a legitimate right to express concern about the growing unrest in Iraq.

"Iraq's stability concerns all its neighbors including Turkey and this did not mean intervention," Sinirlioglu told the envoy, the source told AFP.

The meeting reportedly came after Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan angered his Iraqi counterpart Nouri Al Maliki by phoning him last week about his stand-off with his Vice-President Tarek Al Hashemi, whom Al Maliki has accused of running a death squad.

Al Maliki has also called for his Sunni deputy Saleh Al Mutlak to be sacked in a row that has raised fears that it will fuel sectarian violence.

Al Hashemi has avoided arrest by taking refuge in autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq which borders Turkey. Authorities there have so far declined to hand him over to Baghdad.

Turkey has made numerous bloody incursions into the autonomous region over the years to strike at members of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PPK), which Ankara considers a terrorist organization.

PPK fighters have staged bombing attacks, armed raids, and kidnappings in Turkey. They have also been accused of abusing Iraqis in the northern region. Since 1984 an estimated 40,000 people - most of them Kurdish - have been killed in the conflict.

The bellicose Erdogan has also been in diplomatic rows with France and Israel in the past year.

US-Turkish relations have also been strained as Erdogan’s government has become increasingly Islamic, shifted away from the West towards Iran, and launched a purge of its political enemies.

Domestic critics have charged Erdogan with ruining Turkey’s international standing and alienating former allies.