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    U.S. top diplomat warns Iraqi Kurdish leader Barzani on PKK

    HotNewsTurkey with wires
    29.10.2008 - 10:57 | Son Güncelleme:

    U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told Tuesday Massoud Barzani, the leader of Kurdish regional administration in northern Iraq, not to shelter the terror organization, PKK, within its borders, hurriyet.com.tr reported. (UPDATED)

    During their meeting in Washington, Rice urged Barzani to cooperate with Turkey against the PKK, which uses northern Iraq as a springboard to launch cross-border attacks in the neighboring country.

    Rice asked the Kurdish regional administration to take additional steps in order to ouster the PKK from the region.

    "We discussed the positive developments that we see in the interests of both sides," Barzani told reporters following his talks with Rice, without elaborating.

    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.

    Turkish officials say around 2,000 PKK terrorists are holed up in the mountains of northern Iraq, where they enjoy free movement and use the region to launch cross-border attacks.

    Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan said last week that Ankara was considering a proposal by Iraqi President Jalal Talabani for three-way talks with Baghdad and Washington to outline fresh measures to purge the PKK bases in northern Iraq.

    U.S. MILITARY PACT
    Barzani said his talks with Rice focused on a controversial draft Iraq-U.S. military pact.

    "The issue of the strategic agreement was the main theme of the meeting," Barzani said, adding it was "discussed in detail."

    However, Barzani said he had no details about proposed changes to the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) that is designed to lay out the rights and responsibilities of U.S. forces in Iraq after a U.N. mandate expires at the end of the year.

    "I’m not aware of the latest amend changes in the security pact,” he was quoted as saying by AFP.

    The cabinet last week decided to seek changes to the deal, the latest draft of which stipulates that American forces will withdraw from Iraqi cities by June 2009 and from the country by December 2011.

    The draft also offers powers to the Iraqis to prosecute American soldiers and civilians for "serious crimes" committed outside their bases and when off-duty.

    State Department spokesman Robert Wood said Barzani and Rice also discussed how oil producing regions in Iraq, such as Kurdish regional administration in northern Iraq, could share Iraq’s oil revenue, a move that has been blocked by Iraqi lawmakers for almost a year.

    There is a need for Barzani "to work with the government of Iraq, within the constitutional framework, to end the stalemate in parliament on proposed hydrocarbon legislation," Wood said.

    The pair also talked about the Kurdish governments support for representation for minorities in upcoming provincial election, he said.

    Barzani would also meet U.S. President George W. Bush in Washington.

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