GeriGündem ’Iraq not party to PKK disarmament’
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’Iraq not party to PKK disarmament’

’Iraq not party to PKK disarmament’
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ANKARA - According to Al Hayat newspaper, the Iraqis are responsible for the disarmament of the PKK and its eradication from northern Iraq. Iraqi officials suggest an amnesty for young members of the terrorist group

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said yesterday that the central Iraqi government was not a party to the issue of the disarmament of the terrorist PKK organization.

His remarks came in response to questions if he discussed a concrete plan with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to combat the PKK during their bilateral meeting Wednesday.

"We have no problem with the central Iraqi government in the fight against the PKK," Erdoğan told reporters in Ankara. "He is a person who considers our operations to fight the PKK legitimate," said Erdoğan, referring to the Turkish military’s air strikes to hit the PKK camps in northern Iraq.

He, however, did not make mention of a plan to tackle the PKK problem. London-based Arabic newspaper Al Hayat, on the other side, claimed that al-Maliki submitted a plan during a meeting with Erdoğan to end the PKK presence in northern Iraq. The report from London said Iraq requested amnesty for the young members of the terrorist group, while remaining cool toward the extradition of its chieftains.

According to Al Hayat, the Iraqis are responsible for the PKK disarmament and its eradication from northern Iraq. Iraqi officials suggest 150 members from the PKK’s leadership cadre whose extradition is wanted by Turkey should either stay in northern Iraq or be extradited to European countries, it wrote. Iraqi President Jalal Talabani recently said an amnesty might be offered as an incentive to persuade the PKK to lay down arms.

Turkey’s main opposition yesterday slammed Talabani’s proposal as interference in Turkey’s domestic affairs.

"Talabani is demanding what Turkey should do not in Iraq but in Turkey to tackle the PKK. He is coming up with proposals at a time of intense negotiations," said Republican People’s Party, or CHP, leader Deniz Baykal pointing to al-Maliki’s meetings with Turkish officials.

He argued al-Maliki’s visit did not aim at informing Turkey of the measures taken against the PKK.

"It appears there are negotiations. With whom? Between Turkey and Iraq, or between Iraq-Turkey and PKK?" he asked.

The thorny issue of the PKK taking shelter in northern Iraq was at the center of talks between Turkish officials and al-Maliki.

"Turkey and Iraq agreed they should fight all terrorist groups including the terrorist PKK," said Iraq’s Ambassador to Turkey Sabah Omran to the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review. But he declined to comment on how to address the problem.

In a shift of policy Turkey has begun dialogue with the regional administration in northern Iraq. Reports revealed the diplomacy between Turkey and Iraqi Kurds awoke uneasiness within the PKK. The three-way committee involving Turkey, Iraq and the United States also included Iraqi Kurds.

Güler to visit Iraq soon
Al-Maliki’s agenda in Ankara included discussions on economic and energy cooperation, Erdoğan said. "The Iraqis view the idea of transporting Iraqi natural gas through Turkey positively. Our energy minister (Hilmi Güler) will go to Baghdad to negotiate the issue and sign deals," he said.

Last month Turkish state firms Botaş and TPAO and global energy company Royal Dutch Shell announced they had formed a natural gas exploration and marketing partnership in Iraq.

On Wednesday, Transportation Minister Binali Yıldırım announced a second border would be opened with Iraq, a move welcomed by businessmen in the region.

"We are looking to open a second border gate," confirmed the Iraqi ambassador. "We are in a very desperate need for more than one gate for trade," he said.
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