UN council to meet at Moscow's request on Syria, Iraq

Turkish troops have been deployed near the Iraqi city of Mosul (AFP Photo/Mustafa Ozer) (AFP/File)

United Nations (United States) (AFP) - The UN Security Council will hold informal talks at Russia's request on Tuesday over Turkey's military operations in Iraq and Syria, diplomats said, as Moscow demanded answers.

The closed-door talks will be presided over by the United States, which heads the rotating presidency of the 15-nation council in December.

"We want the secretariat to tell us what is happening in the region," said Peter Iliichev, Russia's representative to the UN Security Council.

"Every country that operates in the region should do it in coordination with the host country," said Iliichev, adding that for now Moscow is not seeking specific UN action on the issue.

Relations between Moscow and Ankara have been tense since Turkish fighter jets shot down a Russian fighter jet on the Syrian border on November 24.

Since then, Russia has imposed sanctions on Turkey, including a ban on the import of some Turkish foods and a halt on sales of Turkish holiday travel packages -- a major blow to the tourist industry.

Ankara has warned it could respond in kind, with Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu saying on Tuesday that his government is considering retaliatory measures.

Meanwhile, Baghdad has demanded that Turkey withdraw its troops from northern Iraq, where Ankara has deployed a contingent of between 150 and 300 soldiers, backed by 20 tanks.

On Sunday, Baghdad gave Ankara 48 hours to remove its forces, but a senior Turkish official said this week that his government was unlikely to comply.

"It will depend on discussions," the Turkish official said.

According to Ankara, the contingent's arrival in northern Iraq was "a normal rotation" and not an illegal incursion or the advance party for an invasion.

Samantha Power, the US ambassador to the United Nations, suggested that Turkey should negotiate its troop presence with Baghdad.

"Our understanding of the original Turkish deployment is that it was negotiated with the Iraqi government. So we are hopeful that this additional deployment is something too that can be done in that manner," she said.

"Our belief is that just as we operate in close cooperation and with the consent of the Iraqi government, all countries should do that."

UN spokesman Farhan Haq urged both sides to resolve their differences over the presence of Turkish troops near Mosul "through constructive dialogue."