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 Turkey seeks Iraqi Kurdistan's help against PKK rebels

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Turkey seeks Iraqi Kurdistan's help against PKK rebels  4.11.2011  
By staff writers

November 4, 2011

ISTANBUL, Turkey,— Turkish leaders on Friday pressed the president of Iraq's Kurdish enclave to crack down on the Kurdish rebels launching cross-border attacks from their Iraqi mountain sanctuaries.

Turkish President Abdullah Gul met Massoud Barzani, the president of the autonomous Kurdistan region in Iraq's north, in Istanbul. Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu already urged Barzani late Thursday to assist Turkey's fight against the guerrillas.

It was the first direct talks in 1 1/2 years between Turkish leaders and Barzani, which followed last month's Turkish military incursion into Iraqi Kurdistan region in response to the Oct. 19 killing of 24 Turkish soldiers by PKK rebels.       

Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu (R) speaks to media after his meeting with Iraqi Kurdistan Regional President Massoud Barzani in Istanbul November 3, 2011. Photo: Reuters
Turkish foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu expected that Iraqi Kurdistan will support Turkey in chasing banned PKK elements, following his meeting with Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani.

He described the meeting as "fruitful", as reported by Turkish Anatolia news agency.

"Our relations with the Iraqi Kurds had been developed lately", Davutoglu added.

He pointed out that "the practices of PKK party affected the Turkish and Kurdish peoples, not only in Turkey, but our brothers north Iraq".

Barzani expressed readiness to exert all possible efforts to enhance security relations with Turkey, pointing the importance of having good relations with it.

Barzani said the Kurdistan Region is prepared to fully cooperate and support any peaceful means to end the conflict in the southeast and bring peace and stability. However, he reiterated that the Kurdistan Region would not be party to any plans that involve violence and conflict.

Turkey has long been urging the Iraqi Kurdistan government to cut supply lines in its territory used by the guerrillas of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, and to arrest and hand over its leaders who live across the border in Iraq.

Turkish pressure has increased since PKK rebels intensified their attacks this summer. Iraqi Kurdish authorities have condemned the Oct. 19 attack but Turkish officials are demanding more.

Iraqi Kurds, which have their own police and armed force, are largely responsible for security in the northern areas of the country where the PKK operates rather than U.S. or Iraqi government troops.

Barzani's Kurdish forces, known as Peshmergas, had fought against the PKK alongside Turkish troops during incursions in 1990s.

Barzani and other Iraqi Kurdish officials also met regularly with Turkish officials during former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's regime. But relations cooled following the 2003 U.S.-led invasion as Kurdish national aspirations skyrocketed.

Turkey's government is again trying to win support of Iraqi Kurds as it is engaged in talks with the United States for possible deployment of Predator drones on Turkish soil after U.S. forces leave Iraq. The U.S. shares drone surveillance data with Turkey to aid its fight against the Kurdish rebels.

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. 

Sources: AP | AFP | | Agencies
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