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Erbil security tied to Ankara, leaders say

Erbil security tied to Ankara, leaders say
In this photo released by the Iraq Prime Minister's Office, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, right, shakes hands with Kurdish regional President Massoud Barzani at the Dokan resort west of Sulaimaniyah, 260 kilometers (160 miles) northeast of Baghdad, Iraq, Sunday, Aug 2, 2009. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is visiting the self-ruled Kurdish region in northern Iraq for talks with Kurdish leaders over a range of issues. UPI/Iraq PM Office | License Photo

ANKARA, Turkey, June 4 (UPI) -- Turkish security isn't separated from security issues in Iraqi Kurdistan, the president of the Kurdish government in Iraq said in Ankara.

Massoud Barzani, the president of the Kurdistan Regional Government, is in Ankara to meet with Turkish officials. Ties between the two neighbors are tense due in part to militant activity along the border, though both sides have enjoyed improved relations in recent years.

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Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said during his meeting with the Kurdish leader that both sides looked forward to strong economic ties.

"We would like to develop strategic cooperation on energy and trade," Barzani's office quoted the foreign minister as saying.

The Kurdish provinces were spared most of violence stemming from the broader war in Iraq. Kurdish regions hold vast oil and gas reserves, while Turkey is anxious to position itself as a regional energy hub.

Both sides, however, are struggling with a Kurdish militancy creating instability in the border regions. The Turkish military said in May it pursued militants with the Kurdistan Workers' Party into northern Iraq with gunships and unmanned drones, killing five suspected militants in a subsequent strike.

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"We do not see Turkey's security as separate from our own," said Barzani. "We are against the continuation of violence and we will expend all efforts to end this deplorable situation."

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