BEIRUT

Middle East

Turkey calls for tougher action against PKK

  • Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu (R) and Iraq's Kurdistan Region president Massoud Barzani pose prior to their meeting in Ankara on April 20, 2012. (AFP PHOTO/ADEM ALTAN)

ANKARA: Turkey on Friday urged the leader of Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region for tougher action against a drawn-out insurgency waged by Kurdish militants, a Turkish diplomat told AFP.

"The issue of tougher action against the (Kurdistan Workers' Party) PKK was discussed ... during the meeting" between Massud Barzani and Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, said the diplomat who declined to be named.

The meeting also focused on developments in Iraq's domestic politics, said the diplomat, without providing any details.

Kurdish separatists use their bases in northern Iraq as a springboard for attacks into Turkey's southeast.

The PKK, listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey and by much of the international community, took up arms in Kurdish-majority southeastern Turkey in 1984, sparking a conflict that has claimed some 45,000 lives.

Barzani, who is on the second day of his visit to Turkey, met Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Istanbul a day ago.

Following that meeting, Erdogan stoked further tensions with Iraq by accusing Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki of taking an "egocentric approach" in politics.

"The current (Iraqi) prime minister's treatment toward his coalition partners, his egocentric approach within Iraqi politics ... seriously concern Shiite groups, Mr Barzani and the Iraqiya group" -- the main Sunni-backed political bloc, Erdogan said, as quoted by local media Friday.

Turkish-Iraqi ties have been marred by a political crisis that has stoked sectarian tensions in Iraq.

Erdogan angered Maliki by phoning him on January 10 about a standoff with his Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi, who is accused of running a death squad.

As Erdogan warned Iraqi leaders against fomenting sectarian tensions, Maliki accused Ankara of intervening in Iraqi affairs, which has strained bilateral ties.

Iraq has been mired in political crisis since US forces withdrew from the country on December 18, pitting the Shiite-led government against the Sunni Iraqiya bloc.

Barzani also met with Hashemi on Thursday who has been sheltering in Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region but is currently staying in Istanbul.

 
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