‘Positive’ Turkey-Iraq talks resume: Iraqi official

ANKARA (AFP) – Crisis talks between Iraqi and Turkish ministers over threats of a Turkish strike on northern Iraq resumed Friday afternoon, an Iraqi embassy source here said.

Iraqi defence ministry spokesman Muhammed Askeri earlier said a first round of talks in the morning had produced “positive” results.

The talks are being held at an Ankara hotel between Iraq’s Defence Minister Abdel Qader Mohammed Jassim and National Security Minister Shirwan al-Waeli and Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan and Interior Minister Besir Atalay.

Commenting on the morning talks that lasted only 90 minutes, Askeri said: “Very important talks are under way. There are positive results, everything is happening as planned.”

A working lunch preceded the second round of talks, in which the two Iraqi Kurdish representatives are also present, the Iraqi embassy source said.

The Turkish side has refrained from all comment on the discussions aimed at dissuading Ankara from launching military incursions against bases of the armed separatist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in the mountains of northern Iraq.

Tensions have risen since the Turkish parliament last week authorised the government to order military incursions against the bases of the PKK, which has been waging a bloody campaign for self-rule in southeast Turkey since 1974.

They peaked after the PKK ambushed a military patrol on Sunday, killing 12 soldiers and capturing eight.

The Turkish army has since massed men and materiel along the border and reported it had killed more than 60 Kurdish rebels in fighting since Sunday’s ambush.

Turkey has long complained of what it calls US and Iraqi inaction in dealing with the PKK in northern Iraq, where the rebels enjoy safe haven.

Washington and Baghdad have vowed to make good on promises to crack down on the PKK, but Turkish leaders, facing strong domestic pressure for rapid military action, have voiced mounting exasperation.


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