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    Iraqi Kurd leader departs for Washington to meet President Bush

    HotNewsTurkey Staff with wires
    27.10.2008 - 12:48 | Son Güncelleme: 27.10.2008 - 15:35

    The leader of the Kurdish regional administration, Massoud Barzani, left Monday the Iraqi province of Arbil for Washington to meet U.S. President George W. Bush.

    Barzani will meet Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and other senior U.S. officials in Washington this week.

    "His visit follows an invitation from George W. Bush. He will also meet other American officials and exchange his views on Iraq," his chief of staff Fuad Hussein told AFP.

    Barzani has been a strong supporter of the controversial security deal that is being negotiated between Washington and Baghdad.

    The deal, if signed, will determine the presence of American forces in Iraq beyond 2008 when the U.N. mandate expires.

    But its signing has been delayed after the Iraqi cabinet decided to seek changes in the latest draft of the agreement.

    Barzani and other Iraqi Kurdish leaders have been allies of the U.S. since the 1991 Gulf War that saw U.S.-led forces push former dictator Saddam Hussein's troops out of Kuwait and also establish a no-fly zone over the country's northern Kurdish region.

    Barzani may also meet the foreign policy advisors of the presidential candidates, Barack Obama and John McCain, broadcaster CNNTurk reported.

    Ahmet Davutoglu, chief foreign policy advisor to Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, would also be in Washington on the same days as Barzani; however, the two are not expected to meet despite speculation.

          

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