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Iraq to Close Offices of PKK, Stop Group From Operating in Iraq


Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki says his country is shutting down the offices of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, and will not allow the group to operate in Iraq.

In a statement, Mr. Maliki said the group is a terrorist organization. He said Baghdad will do everything it can to halt the PKK's activities which are threatening Iraq and Turkey.

In London, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Ankara cannot wait forever for Iraq to crack down on Kurdish rebels who use bases in northern Iraq to launch attacks on Turkey. He warned that Ankara is prepared to take military action against the PKK at any time.

Mr. Erdogan spoke after talks with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who pledged support for Turkey.

In Baghdad, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari held talks with his Turkish counterpart, Ali Babacan.

Babacan rejected a truce offer from the rebels, saying cease-fires are possible between states but not with terrorist organizations.

And Zebari said Iraq will send a high-level political and military delegation to Turkey.

Babacan has emphasized that Turkey prefers to deal with the PKK through diplomatic measures.

In a speech at a research institute in Washington on Tuesday, Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Barham Salih warned that any unilateral military action on Turkey's part will cause permanent damage to Iraqi-Turkish relations.

On Sunday, Kurdish rebels killed 12 Turkish soldiers during an ambush in Turkey's Hakkari province. Rebels say they captured eight soldiers in the ambush. Turkey's military says it killed 32 rebels in a counter-offensive.

Funerals for the soldiers Tuesday turned into protests against the PKK.

The Kurdish news agency Firat published pictures today on its Web site of what it said were the eight captured Turkish soldiers. The Web site said the soldiers are in good health.

The PKK has been fighting for Kurdish autonomy in southeastern Turkey since 1984. More than 30,000 people have died in the conflict.

Turkey has built up its forces along the Iraq border. About 10,000 Turkish troops already are along Turkey's border with Iraq.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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