BAGHDAD - Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki on Friday branded Turkey a "hostile state" with a sectarian agenda, the latest in a series of bitter exchanges between the neighbors.

Maliki was responding to comments made by Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday in which Erdogan accused the Iraqi leader of fanning tensions between the country's Shi'ites, Sunnis and Kurds with his "self-centered" ways.

"The recent announcements by Mr. Erdogan represent another return to flagrant interference in Iraqi internal affairs," Maliki said in a statement on his website.

"His announcements have a sectarian dimension. To insist on continuing these internal and regional policies will harm Turkish interests and make it a hostile state for all."

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