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Iraqi President Visits Turkey to Ease Tensions


Iraqi President Jalal Talabani is in Ankara in a bid to ease tensions following Turkey's military assault against Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq.

Mr. Talabani arrived in Turkey Friday on his first visit to the country as president of Iraq.

Officials say Turkish President Abdullah Gul will host a dinner for Mr. Talabani this Friday evening. The Iraqi leader also will meet with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan during his two-day visit.

Tensions flared between Baghdad and Ankara last month, when the Turkish military launched an eight-day air and ground assault against Kurdish PKK rebels in northern Iraq. Baghdad condemned the military operation as a violation of Iraq's sovereignty.

Turkish officials say Mr. Talabani, a Kurd, will be on a "working," rather than "official" visit. That means he will not receive the full red-carpet treatment of an "official visit."

Turkey withdrew its troops from northern Iraq last week, one day after the United States called for a quick end to the operation.

Turkey and the United States consider the PKK a terrorist organization. The separatist rebels have been fighting for autonomy since 1984.

Turkish officials have expressed concern that Turkish Kurds could be emboldened if Iraqi Kurds break away from Iraq. Such concerns led former Turkish President Ahmet Necdet Sezer to refuse to invite Mr. Talabani to Ankara.

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

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