Tuesday, August 07, 2007


Al-Maliki in Turkey - insists Iraq isn't supporting PKK

(AP) - Kurdish guerrillas killed a Turkish lieutenant in the southeast on Tuesday, as the Iraqi prime minister arrived for a visit likely to be dominated by Turkish warnings to either crack down on rebel bases in northern Iraq or face a possible incursion. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki insisted that his government was not supporting the separatist Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK.
"Our visit is an effort to develop bilateral relations and cooperation with Turkey, especially regarding the security file, which is the most important one," he told The Associated Press in an interview on his plane before landing in Ankara. "The PKK is an illegal terrorist organization, and the Turks are accusing them of terrorism. We don't allow for any terrorist organization on our soil," he said. "We want good relations with our neighbor, Turkey, and we should not interfere in each other's internal affairs."
Al-Maliki was greeted at the airport in Ankara by Turkey's Trade Minister Kursad Tuzmen. The Iraqi delegation included Oil Minister Hussain al-Shahristani, Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari and some Iraqi legislators. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was expected to warn al-Maliki against allowing the PKK rebels to shelter in Iraq. Turkey has threatened to stage a cross-border offensive to eradicate the Kurdish rebel bases if Iraq or the United States do not act against the rebels.
Al-Maliki will likely seek to dissuade Turkey from launching an incursion. Turkey's patience with the decades-old rebel conflict has been running thin amid escalated fighting that has left around 80 Turkish soldiers dead so far this year. On Tuesday, Turkish generals were gathering for the funeral of a noncommissioned officer, also killed by rebels.
Al-Maliki planned to visit Iran on Wednesday.

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