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Iraq Promises to Help Turkey Crackdown on Kurdish Rebels


Iraq's foreign minister says his government will help Turkey crack down on Kurdish rebels launching attacks into Turkey from bases in northern Iraq.

Hoshiyar Zebari made the comment Tuesday in Baghdad at a joint news conference with Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan.

Zebari said he has assured his Turkish counterpart of Baghdad's active support in combatting what he called the "menace" of Kurdish rebels. He said Iraq will not allow the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, "to poison" relations with Turkey.

Babacan said Turkey prefers to deal with the rebels issue through diplomacy, dialogue and economic measures. He rejected a truce offer the PKK made Monday in return for an end to Turkish military actions against rebel fighters.

In London, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown condemned PKK actions and pledged to step up efforts to deal with the group.

Mr. Brown made the remark at a joint news conference with his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who stressed that Turkey remains prepared to take military action against the rebels if necessary.

Turkey has built up its forces along the Iraq border in preparation for a possible incursion against rebel bases.

Kurdish rebels killed 12 Turkish soldiers in an ambush Sunday in Turkey's Hakkari province near the Iraqi border.

Rebels say they captured eight soldiers. Turkey's military says it killed 32 rebels in a counter-offensive.

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

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

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