|BAGHDAD - Kurdish separatists yesterday rejected calls by Iraq's president to stop fighting against Turkey and leave Iraqi territory as the visiting Turkish president stepped up pressure on the Baghdad government to act against the group.
President Jalal Talabani made the call Monday during a press conference with visiting Turkish President Abdullah Gül. Talabani, who is a Kurd, said it was in Iraq's interest to remove fighters of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, from Iraqi soil.
Talabani also called on the separatists to lay down arms, but he has made similar calls in the past that have been ignored and the government announced no imminent plans to take action against the separatist group.
The central government has frequently denounced the PKK as terrorists, but it is limited in its ability to act against the separatists, who are based in semiautonomous Kurdish territory in northern Iraq. Baghdad also has been preoccupied with fighting violence elsewhere in Iraq.
"Jalal Talabani doesn't have the authority or the will to utter such words, and we don't take orders from him," PKK spokesman Ahmed Deniz said.
"We are publicly warning Talabani that such statements will lead to grave consequences and much of the achievements of (Iraq's) Kurds will be lost," Deniz told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. He did not elaborate.