Iraq's Kurdistan president says Iraq-US
security pact dominates his talks with Rice
October 29, 2008
President of Iraq’s Kurdistan region Massoud Barzani,
said his talks on Tuesday with US Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice focused on a controversial draft
Iraq-US military pact.
"The issue of the strategic agreement was the main
theme of the meeting," Barzani told reporters
following his talks with Rice in Washington, adding
it was "discussed in detail."
Barzani said he had no
details about proposed changes to the Status of
Forces Agreement (SOFA) that is designed to lay out
the rights and responsibilities of US forces in Iraq
after a UN mandate expires at the end of the year.
Massoud Barzani, the President of the autonomous Regional
Government of Kurdistan 'Iraq'
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
"I'm not aware of the
latest amendments because I was traveling during the
meeting," he added.
The Iraqi cabinet on Tuesday authorised Prime
Minister Nuri al-Maliki to negotiate changes in the
The cabinet last week decided to seek changes to the
deal, the latest draft of which stipulates that
American forces will withdraw from Iraqi cities by
June 2009 and from the country by December 2011.
The draft also offers powers to the Iraqis to
prosecute American soldiers and civilians for
"serious crimes" committed outside their bases and
the White House poured
cold water on Iraq's push to reopen talks on the
accord, with spokeswoman Dana Perino saying, "the
door is pretty much shut on these negotiations."
Barzani said he and Rice also discussed the
situation involving Iraq, the Kurds and Turkey.
Turkish troops have stepped up operations against
the Turkey's Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) rebels
-- both inside Turkey and in Kurdistan region
'northern Iraq', since October 3.
Ankara has often accused the Iraqi Kurds,www.ekurd.net
who run an autonomous
Kurdish administration led by Barzani in the region,
of tolerating and even aiding the PKK, but has said
it will still pursue talks with them to resolve the
problem. Kurdish authorities in Kurdistan region
strongly reject the claim.
"We discussed the positive developments that we see
in the interests of both sides," Barzani said
Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan said last week
that Ankara was considering a proposal by Iraqi
President Jalal Talabani for three-way talks with
Baghdad and Washington to outline fresh measures to
purge the PKK bases in northern Iraq.
State Department spokesman Robert Wood said Barzani
and Rice also discussed how oil producing regions in
Iraq, such as Kurdistan, could share Iraq's oil
revenue, a move that has been blocked by Iraqi
lawmakers for almost a year.
There is a need for Barzani "to work with the
government of Iraq, within the constitutional
framework, to end the stalemate in parliament on
proposed hydrocarbon legislation," Wood said.
The pair also talked about the Kurdish government's
support for representation for minorities in
upcoming provincinal election, he said.
Since 1984 when the Turkey's Kurdistan Workers'
took up arms for self-rule in the country's mainly
Kurdish southeast of Turkey (Turkey-Kurdistan). A large Turkey's
Kurdish community openly sympathise with the Kurdish PKK rebels.
The PKK demanded Turkey's recognition of the Kurds'
identity in its constitution and of their language
as a native language along with Turkish in the
country's Kurdish areas, the party also demanded
an end to ethnic discrimination in Turkish laws and
constitution against Kurds, ranting them full
The PKK is considered a 'terrorist' organization by
Ankara, U.S., the PKK continues to be on the
blacklist list in EU despite court ruling which
overturned a decision
to place the Kurdish rebel
group PKK and its political wing on
the European Union's terror list.
Turkey refuses to recognize its Kurdish population
as a distinct minority. It has allowed some cultural
rights such as limited broadcasts in the Kurdish
language and private Kurdish language courses with
the prodding of the European Union, but Kurdish politicians
say the measures fall short of their expectations.
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