Turkey’s foreign minister began an official visit to Iraq on Tuesday, holding talks with his Iraqi counterpart on the issue of water resources, the prospect of Iraqi Kurdistan resuming oil exports through Turkey and the presence of the PKK separatist organization in Iraqi territory.

Hakan Fidan’s trip to Baghdad and Iraqi Kurdistan until tomorrow Thursday is considered preparatory, in view of the visit of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, for which, however, no specific date has been announced so far.

The issue of water and dams on the Tigris and Euphrates, which originate in Turkish territory, is an extremely sensitive issue in the relations between the two neighbors.

Iraq is facing an alarmingly high drop in water levels in the two rivers and accuses Turkey of greatly reducing the flow of water with the dams.

After talks with his Iraqi counterpart Fouad Hussein, Mr Fidan said during a press conference that he was approaching the issue of the drought in Iraq from a “totally humanitarian point of view”. He said he intends to establish a “permanent dialogue” mechanism between Ankara and Baghdad on this.

The head of Turkish diplomacy proposed the creation of a “permanent committee” responsible for managing the water resource problem, Mr Hussein confirmed.

In Baghdad, Mr Fidan is also expected to hold talks with Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani and President Abdel Latif Rashid.

Another burning issue: Turkey’s Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants, who have a network of rear bases in northern Iraq, where Turkey’s armed forces often conduct operations against them.

Warning against the PKK, “our common enemy that must not poison our bilateral relations”, Haqqan Fidan urged Baghdad to label the separatist group “terrorist”.

The two officials also discussed the imminent resumption of crude exports from autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan to Turkey, which Ankara froze in March.

“We hope to find a solution,” Fouad Hussein told the news conference.

After years of independently exporting oil through Turkey, Iraqi Kurdistan was forced at the end of March to accept the verdict of an international court that vindicated Baghdad over the management of crude exports.

Following the decision, Turkey suspended the transit of Kurdish oil through a pipeline through its territory.

In May, Iraq said it expected a “final deal” with Turkey before exports could resume, but economic issues remain.