Turkey, Iraq Kurd relations said improving

Oct. 16, 2009 at 7:40 PM

ANKARA, Turkey, Oct. 16 (UPI) -- Ankara and the semi-autonomous Iraqi Kurdish area are close to reconciliation after years of hostility, Iraq Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani said.

Barzani praised the Turkish government's plans to address the Turkish Kurd's grievances, Today's Zaman reported. .

"The winter is in the past, spring is arriving. Our relations are being restored," Barzani told CNN Turk Thursday.

The two groups once had friendly relations but they grew strained following the U.S.-led war on Iraq in 2003 because the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) was in Kurdish-administered northern Iraq.

Ankara refused to speak to Kurdish leaders, and the military conducted numerous cross-border operations. A major ground incursion began in February 2008, against PKK targets in northern Iraq.

Since then, Turkish officials have held public talks with Kurdish leaders.

Barzani said the PKK must put down its arms and Turkey should take steps to pave the way for a resolution. Relations between Iraqi Kurds and Turkey should not be limited to the PKK issue, he said.

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