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Turkish PM: Iraq Supports Ankara's Fight Against Kurdish Rebels


Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan says both Baghdad and Iraq's Kurdish regional government have pledged their support in Ankara's fight against Kurdish rebels based in northern Iraq.

Mr. Erdogan, during a visit to Baghdad Thursday, said rebels who launch attacks on Turkey from bases in Iraq threaten not only those two countries, but the entire region. But he said leaders will not allow such rebels to poison relations between Iraq and Turkey.

Mr. Erdogan made the comments during a news conference with his Iraqi counterpart, Nouri al-Maliki. The Turkish leader said eradicating what he called "terrorism" by rebels of the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, is the most important task for both countries.

Mr. Maliki, in his remarks, praised Mr. Erdogan for what the Iraqi leader called an "historic visit." Mr. Erdogan is the first Turkish leader to visit Iraq in 18 years.

Turkey has stepped up military operations this year against PKK rebels both inside Turkey and in northern Iraq.

The Iraqi government has protested Turkey's incursions into its country.

The PKK has been fighting for autonomy in southeastern Turkey for nearly 25 years. The violence has killed more than 30,000 people.

The United States, Turkey and other countries classify the PKK as a terrorist group.

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

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