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Iraqi Foreign Minister Says Regional Conference Must Focus on Security

Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari says a regional conference on Iraq this week must focus on the nation's security rather than border tensions with Turkey.

Zebari made the comment at a joint news conference in Baghdad Wednesday with his visiting Iranian counterpart, Manouchehr Mottaki. Zebari said both Iraq and Iran want the upcoming conference in Istanbul to address Iraq's stability and security.

He said the conference must not be distracted by tensions between the Turkish government and Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq.

Separately in Baghdad Wednesday, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and visiting British Defense Minister Des Browne agreed that Iraqi forces are ready to take over security operations in the southern province of Basra. The two leaders said Iraq is prepared to assume control of the province from British forces in mid-December.

In violence Wednesday, the U.S. military in Iraq says coalition forces in the northern city of Kirkuk killed three terrorists during an operation targeting al-Qaida in Iraq.

The military said the terrorists were killed during a firefight that broke out after coalition forces hunting for a senior al-Qaida leader surrounded a building and demanded that the occupants come out.

The military did not name the al-Qaida leader it was hunting, but said he is suspected of playing a major role in a series of assassinations and car bomb attacks.

In Baghdad, coalition forces captured a wanted individual and detained 11 others in a separate operation supporting efforts to stabilize the region.

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