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    Iraqi Shi'ites share Turkey's concerns over PKK

    HotNewsTurkey Staff
    24.10.2008 - 12:50 | Son Güncelleme:

    Iraqi Shi’ites have echoed Turkey's concerns on the presence bases of the terrorist organization, PKK, in northern Iraq and expressed their political support in the fight against the terrorist group, sources told Turkish Daily News (TDN).

    Ammar al-Hakim, the deputy leader of the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, met Thursday high-level officials in Turkey.

     

    Turkey demanded more cooperation from al-Hakim to combat the PKK and to stop them from using northern Iraq as a springboard for attacks into the country’s southeast.

     

    Turkey, provided with intelligence by the United States, has stepped up its campaign to crackdown on the PKK both inside Turkey and in northern Iraq, after the terror organization increased its attacks on Turkish soldiers, as well as civilians.

     

    "We are ready to help Turkey but we don't have tanks or artillery or any military power to challenge the PKK. Iraqi’s are also victims of terror," an Iraqi Shi’ite official told the TDN.

     

    He said the Iraqi Shi’ites could only assist Ankara within the lines of the Iraqi Constitution.

     

    "Our Constitution clearly says Iraq cannot harbor any group, no matter if it is terrorist or not, but damages from a group to a neighboring country are not acceptable," said the official who declined to be named.

     

    Al-Hakim met Wednesday with Foreign Minister Ali Babacan and with Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan the following day. Later in the day he traveled to Turkey's commercial hub, Istanbul, for a meeting with President Abdullah Gul.

     

    The government's contact with the Iraqi Shi’ites is part of a policy of dialogue with all groups in Iraq. Ankara has repeatedly urged all political factions in the neighboring country to actively participate in the political process. The meeting with al-Hakim comes after Ankara established direct dialogue channels with the semi-autonomous administration in northern Iraq and its leader Massoud Barzani.

     

    A Turkish delegation led by special envoy for northern Iraq, Murat Ozcelik, traveled to Baghdad last week and met with Barzani. Turkish Foreign Ministry officials say the upcoming days will see an acceleration in diplomatic traffic with the regional government, including face-to-face meetings and telephone conversations.

     

    Iraqi Shi’ites welcomed Turkey's opening up to Iraqi Kurdish leaders as a positive step. The unnamed official told the TDN he hoped it would bring results.

     

    Economic cooperation between Turkey and Iraq was also discussed during the meeting with al-Hakim, who expressed readiness for Turkish investments, not only in the north, but also in the south, the TDN reported.

     

    "Turks are always welcome. Iraq is 90 percent safer today than in the past," said the official.

     

    Iraqi Shi’ites are influential in Iraqi politics with the ruling Shi’ite alliance led by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki holding 85 of the parliament's 275 seats.

     

    Photo: AFP 

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