Kurds concerned about Islamist groups near Iraqi autonomous zone

July 31, 2013 at 12:30 PM

ANKARA, Turkey, July 31 (UPI) -- The top official of an autonomous Kurdish zone in northern Iraq says the possible control of neighboring regions by Islamic militants is a major concern.

Necirvan Barzani, prime minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) expressed those concerns during a two-day visit with Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, Hurriyet Daily News reported Wednesday.

The presence of members of al-Nusra in northern Iraq "will put our stability in jeopardy" and harm peace in the whole region," an unnamed official said.

Barzani also is expected to discuss topics surrounding the Kurdish National Conference, which is set to convene in the Iraqi city of Arbil in August.

Representatives of Kurdish groups from Turkey, Syria, Iran and Iraq are expected at the meeting, which will discuss the future of Kurds in the region.

After a meeting with members of the Republican People's Party, KRG spokesman Safeen Dizayee was quoted as saying the conference "is not a step on the way to an independent Kurdish state. One the contrary, every Kurdish group wants to live within their country."

Salih Muslim, leader of the Democratic Union Party in Syria, met with Turkish officials last week in Istanbul after his group declared it wanted to establish an autonomous Kurdish region in northern Syria.

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