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Turkey: Withdrawal Of Troops From Iraq 'Out Of Question'


Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said his country has no intention of pulling out troops from northern Iraq.

"Withdrawal is out of the question for the time being," Erdogan told reporters on December 10.

His comments came as U.S. Vice President Joe Biden sought to lower tensions between Turkey and Iraq in a phone call with Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.

The two leaders "discussed ongoing developments in Iraq, emphasizing the importance of defusing recent tensions...in a manner that respects Iraqi sovereignty and fully coordinates counter-[Islamic State] efforts," the White House said.

Turkey has stationed troops near Mosul since 2014 as part of a training mission coordinated with the Baghdad government. The arrival of additional Turkish forces last week, however, sparked uproar in the Iraqi capital.

Erdogan insisted that the troops consist of a noncombative force.

He added that there would be a trilateral meeting between Turkey, the United States, and Iraq's semiautonomous Kurdish region on December 21.

On December 9, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said the Turkish soldiers were dispatched to northern Iraq after an increase in the threat to Turkish military trainers from Islamic State.

Based on reporting by AP and Reuters
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