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Iraqi Official Says New Efforts Will Restrain Kurdish Rebels Striking In Turkey


In Baghdad Wednesday, Iraq's Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari met with his Iranian counterpart Manouchehr Mottaki. They discussed ways to keep Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq from striking inside Turkey. VOA's Deborah Block reports from the northern Iraqi city of Irbil.

Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari says his country will take additional measures to restrain rebels of the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, who have killed dozens of people inside Turkey over the past month.

He said Iraq's government is ready to work with Turkey and put new measures in place to stop PKK militants from staging attacks from bases in northern Iraq.

Zebari said the measures include more checkpoints along Iraq's northern border to keep fuel, food and other supplies from reaching the Kurdish rebels. Zebari, a Kurd, also said Iraq would restrict the movement of PKK fighters to prevent them from reaching populated towns and areas inside Turkey.

Ankara is threatening to launch a military incursion into northern Iraq to flush out the rebels who have been fighting for self-rule in southeastern Turkey since 1984.

Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has urged Iran to help defuse the crisis and has called for Tehran's support at a regional conference on Iraq opening Thursday in Istanbul.

Besides Iraq and Turkey, Iran and Syria also have Kurdish minorities.

On Tuesday, the leader of Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region, Massoud Barzani, discussed the border situation with the regional parliament. At a news conference, he asked the PKK rebels to stop fighting and he repeated that Kurdistan will defend itself if Turkey attacks the Kurdish region of northern Iraq. He was also critical of Turkey for not working with his Kurdish government.

He said Turkey is refusing to talk with Kurdistan's government, so how can they expect us to cooperate with them? He said he is not for war, but is for peace and dialogue.

Iraq's Foreign Minister Zebari said the Istanbul conference on Iraq must not be distracted by tensions between the Turkish government and Kurdish rebels. He said both Iraq and Iran want the meeting to address Iraq's stability and security.

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