Turkey summoned Iraq's ambassador to Ankara to protest claims that it has been meddling in its neighbour's affairs by voicing concerns about a domestic political crisis, a diplomatic source said Tuesday.
Feridun Sinirlioglu, the foreign ministry's undersecretary, told the Iraqi envoy Monday that the accusation was "unacceptable" and Turkey had a legitimate right to be concerned about events on the other side of its borders.
"Iraq's stability concerns all its neighbours including Turkey and this did not mean intervention," Sinirlioglu told the envoy, the source told AFP.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan angered his counterpart Nuri al-Maliki by phoning him last week about a standoff with his Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi whom he has accused of running a death squad.
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.
The summoning came a day after Iraq said it had called in Turkey's envoy to Baghdad to protest at Ankara's "interference".
Maliki himself voiced criticism Friday of Turkish "interventions" in his country's affairs, warning that Turkey itself would suffer if its actions sparked conflict in the Middle East.
Since the charges were filed last month, Hashemi has stayed in the autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq which borders Turkey. The authorities there have so far declined to hand him over to Baghdad.
In his phone call to Maliki, Erdogan reportedly called on political and religious leaders in Iraq to stem sectarian tensions. Hashemi is a Sunni Muslim while Maliki is a Shiite.