Kurdish PM to visit Tehran

Aug. 1, 2008 at 6:53 PM
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ERBIL, Iraq, Aug. 1 (UPI) -- The Kurdish prime minister plans to visit Tehran next week to discuss political issues as well as activity regarding Kurdish separatists, officials said Friday.

Falah Mustafa, the top foreign affairs official in the Kurdistan Regional Government, told Voices of Iraq that Kurdish Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani will lead a delegation of Kurdish officials to Iran's capital, Tehran, next week.

"Tehran-Kurdistan relations will be the focal point of talks between the two sides as well as calls on Iranian businessmen to invest in Kurdistan and means to reach a solution to pending issues," the lawmaker said.

Relations between Iraqi Kurdistan and the Islamic Republic soured in recent times following repeated air assaults by Iranian fighters targeting strongholds of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, and the Party of Free Life of Kurdistan, or PJAK.

PKK and PJAK operate in the north of Iraq along the borders of Iran and Turkey. The U.S. military allegedly coordinates with Turkish officials regarding PKK activity in northern Iraq.

A dispute over intelligence erupted recently when claims emerged that Turkey had shared U.S. intelligence with Iran.

Kurdish lawmakers accuse Turkey and Iran of using both organizations to legitimize attacks in the Kurdish regions of Iraq. Ankara and Tehran fear the movements may encourage similar movements on their own soil to push for regional autonomy.

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