Talabani calls PKK 'common problem'

Iraqi president, visiting Ankara, seeks "strategic and solid relations" with Turkey.

     Talabani, left, seen here with Gul, said Iraq wants 'strategic and solid relations' with Turkey [AFP]
    "We have exerted pressure. Either they should lay down arms or they should leave the area."
     
    Referring to the government of Iraq's Kurdish autonomous region, Talabani said: "We have requested that the Kurdish administration puts pressure on PKK units to give up their weapons or leave the region.
     
    "We will never accept that they carry out armed attacks against Turkey."
     
    Call to disarm
     
    Gul, for his part, urged the PKK to disarm.
     
    "No country could accept the existence of a terror group on its soil," he said.
     
    "That is why those who illegally bear weapons should lay them down."
     
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    Relations have been strained in recent years by the PKK issue and Ankara's fears that Kurds of northern Iraq aim to build their own state.
     
    PKK fighters are believed to use a remote, mountainous part of northern Iraq as a base from which to stage attacks on targets inside Turkey.
     
    Ankara blames the PKK for the deaths of nearly 40,000 people since it began its armed campaign for an ethnic homeland in southeast Turkey in 1984.
     
    Trade on agenda
     
    Talabani said that during his two-day visit, his talks with Turkish leaders, including Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the prime minister, would be focus on enlarging a security co-operation agreement.
     
    He will also attend a meeting of the Turkey-Iraq business council.
     
    Iraq's ministers of finance, oil, water resources, national security and industry are travelling with Talabani.
     
    Turkish firms are very active in the construction sector in Iraq, which is also an increasingly important market for Turkish products from food to textiles.
     
    A pipeline carries Iraqi oil to Turkey and there are also plans for a natural gas link.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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