Kurdish leader in Ankara on historic visit

June 3, 2010 at 12:50 PM
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ANKARA, Turkey, June 3 (UPI) -- The president of the Kurdish government in Iraq arrived in Ankara for his first trip to Turkey in more than five years, his office said.

Massoud Barzani, the president of the Kurdistan Regional Government, is in Ankara to meet his Turkish counterpart Abdullah Gul. Barzani led a delegation of Kurdish officials for a five-day visit, his office said in a statement.

Though improved in recent years, ties between Turkey and Iraqi Kurdistan remain tense in part because of militant activity along their shared border.

Barzani and his delegation are expected to raise the issue of border security during his talks with Turkish leaders. U.S. military officials have shared intelligence information with Ankara regarding the Iraqi activity of the blacklisted Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK.

The Turkish military said in May it pursued militants with the PKK into northern Iraq with gunships and unmanned drones, killing five suspected militants in a subsequent strike.

Barzani was last in Ankara in 2004 as the president of the Iraqi Governing Council. The Kurdish leader is expected in Paris following his trip to Turkey.

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