Kurds to curb PKK activity

May 23, 2008 at 6:24 PM
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WASHINGTON, May 23 (UPI) -- Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani of the semiautonomous Iraqi Kurdistan said in Washington he was serious about preventing Kurdish rebels from attacking Turkey.

Ankara has long accused Kurdish authorities of supporting attacks on Turkey by the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, leading to military and political skirmishes between the two. Washington considers the PKK to be a terrorist organization.

Turkish and Kurdish officials met in Baghdad in early May to discuss a political solution to the situation, and in talks with U.S. officials in Washington this week, Barzani said he was serious about enforcing a policy of non-interference in Turkey, Today's Zaman said Friday.

"Secondly, we said measures to restrict and prevent PKK activities in northern Iraq will continue," he said. "Turkey's demand -- asking that our territory not be used against Turkey -- is a just and righteous one."

Barzani met with U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, national security adviser Stephen Hadley and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice this week, along with officials in the U.S. House of Representatives.

"I am very pleased with my visit to Washington. In all of my meetings, there was great interest in the Kurdistan region and appreciation for what we have accomplished," the Kurdish premier said. "Our relationship with the United States has never been better."

Falah Bakir with the Foreign Relations Department of the Kurdistan Regional Government said in a statement released Friday by Kurdish officials that the meeting was positive.

"It was an excellent and productive meeting -- both substantive and very friendly," he said.

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