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 Iraqi Kurdish official rushes to Ankara to pledge cooperation on counter PKK

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Iraqi Kurdish official rushes to Ankara to pledge cooperation on counter PKK  21.10.2011  

October 21, 2011

ANKARA,— Nechirvan Barzani, the number two of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and a former prime minister of the Kurdistan regional government in Iraq's north, arrived in Ankara on Thursday to express solidarity and cooperation with Turkey in its fight against the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

The Kurdish official said Massoud Barzani, the president of Iraqi semi-autonomous Kurdistan region, will also pay a visit to Turkey soon in a show of cooperation with the Turkish state in its counterterrorism efforts.

Barzani was in Ankara on Thursday meet with Turkish Prime Minister            

Nechirvan Barzani, KDP leader and former Kurdistan region premier
Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu. Barzani's trip comes one day after a series of attacks by the terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in Turkey's southeast that left 24 soldiers dead. Davutoğlu received Barzani in the morning at his office in Ankara and the two reportedly discussed cooperation against the PKK.

Speaking to reporters after his meeting with Davutoğlu, Barzani said he rushed to Ankara to offer the condolences of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to Turkey. Stating that they believe that such attacks do not serve the interests of either the Turkish or Kurdish people, he said such attacks should not damage Kurdish-Turkish relations. Stating that bilateral meetings with Turkish officials will be held more often, Barzani underscored that the KRG's cooperation with Turkey will expand in many areas.

The Kurdish official also praised the Turkish government's democratic initiative, launched in 2009 to address the country's Kurdish issue by expanding the rights of the Kurdish population, terming the steps taken as part of the initiative as “bold.”

The Iraqi Kurdish politician is also scheduled to meet with Erdoğan in the Thursday afternoon.

Meanwhile, the Iraqi Foreign Ministry on Thursday condemned Wednesday's PKK assaults and said it would cooperate with Turkey on maintaining security to prevent such attacks in the future.

“The Iraqi government condemns the PKK's terrorist acts ... and confirms again that Iraq will not be a shelter and harbor any foreign terrorist armed groups,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

“The Iraqi government and the Kurdistan Regional Government are committed to maintaining border security and security cooperation with the Turkish government to prevent such acts from being repeated,” the statement said.

Iraqi officials in Baghdad say it is difficult for them to control the rugged area where PKK rebels have their camps. Turkish, Iraqi and US officials meet often to discuss security.

According to Turkish officials, and in what has been taken as a sign of deep mistrust, Davutoğlu told his Iraqi counterpart Hoshiyar Zebari during a phone conversation on Wednesday that “it is not time to condemn,” but “to take concrete steps.”

Turkey launched a cross-border offensive against the PKK after the group staged simultaneous attacks on Turkish military and police targets along the border on Wednesday, killing 24 Turkish soldiers and wounding 18 others. About a dozen warplanes flew several bombing sorties out of two military bases in the country's southeast until sunrise.

Since it was established in 1984, the PKK has been fighting the Turkish state, which still denies the constitutional existence of Kurds, to establish a Kurdish state in the south east of the country, sparking a conflict that has claimed some 45,000 lives.

But now its aim is the creation an autonomous Kurdish region and more cultural rights for ethnic Kurds who constitute the greatest minority in Turkey, numbering more than 20 million. A large Turkey's Kurdish community openly sympathise with the Kurdish PKK rebels.

PKK's demands included releasing PKK detainees, lifting the ban on education in Kurdish, paving the way for an autonomous democrat Kurdish system within Turkey, reducing pressure on the detained PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan, stopping military action against the Kurdish party and recomposing the Turkish constitution.

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.

The PKK is considered as '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. 

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