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Obama Asks Erdogan To Lower Tensions, Pull Troops From Iraq

U.S. President Barack Obama asked his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan keep pulling troops out of northern Iraq in an effort to lower tensions with its neighbor.

In a phone call December 18, Obama urged Erdogan to "take additional steps to de-escalate tensions," which have soared in the last month after Baghdad accused Ankara of sending troop reinforcements to a training camp near Mosul without its permission.

Erdogan has resisted Iraq's calls for complete withdrawal of the troops, but has transferred some of them to Iraq's Kurdish autonomous region, which has welcomed them.

Four of the Turkish trainers were wounded in an attack by the Islamic State (IS) group this week, lending credence to Turkey's contention that reinforcements were needed to protect the training camp because of the danger posed by IS.

The White House said both leaders agreed about the need to cooperate in fighting IS and pursuing a resolution to Syria's civil war.

Obama's outreach followed similar calls earlier this week by Vice President Joe Biden to the leaders of Iraq and Turkey.

Based on reporting by AP, AFP, and Reuters