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Turkey hosts U.S., Iranian officials

July 18, 2008 at 4:39 PM

ANKARA, Turkey, July 18 (UPI) -- Turkish Foreign Affairs Minister Ali Babacan hosted U.S. and Iranian diplomats in Ankara Friday to discuss, among other things, developments in Iraq.

Babacan met separately with U.S. national security adviser Stephen Hadley and Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki Friday ahead of a major diplomatic summit Saturday in Geneva in which U.S. officials are expected to make tentative maneuvers to engage Iran.

Mottaki said en route to Ankara that it is of regional importance to collaborate on the reconstruction of Iraq, the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency reported.

"Tehran and Ankara follow the common goal of restoration of stability and tranquillity in Iraq. I am visiting Turkey to discuss with Turkish officials Iraq developments," the Iranian minister said.

Hadley emerged from his meeting with Babacan saying the two discussed forming a unified position regarding the separatist Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, the Journal of Turkish Weekly reported. Turkey launched military operations against the PKK in northern Iraq with the help of U.S. intelligence information in December.

"The United States appreciates very much its strong strategic partnership with its close friend and strong ally Turkey, as we deal with the challenges of the 21st century," the U.S. adviser said.

For his part, Mottaki said he welcomed the decision from Washington to attend talks in Geneva with Europe on the Iranian nuclear issue.

"The presence of the U.S. envoy (William Burns) at Geneva will help Washington have their representatives hear directly Iran's stances in the meeting," he said.

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