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Turkey, Iraq Meet in Baghdad on Border Security


Turkish officials have met with the Iraqi prime minister and the leader of Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdish region to discuss the sensitive issue of security along the border between the two countries.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's office said that during the meeting Tuesday in Baghdad, he condemned cross-border attacks on Turkey by Iraq-based Kurdish rebels.

Turkish news media say the Turkish delegation asked Iraqi regional President Massud Barzani to cut the rebels' support lines.

The Turkish military has been making nearly daily air strikes in southeastern Turkey and northern Iraq, targeting suspected hideouts of the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK. Turkey says it is responding to a Kurdish rebel raid near the border that left 17 Turkish soldiers dead.

Turkish media report another five soldiers were wounded Tuesday in an attack in eastern Turkey by suspected PKK rebels.

Turkish and Iraqi officials called the Baghdad talks "positive." They come against a backdrop of tense relations between Turkey and Iraq's Kurdish region. Turkey's government has accused Iraqi Kurdish officials of tolerating or even supporting the rebels. Iraqi leaders and Kurdish regional authorities deny the allegations.

Turkish lawmakers recently extended a mandate for the military to continue operations in northern Iraq for another year.

Both the Turkish government and Iraqi Kurdish officials oppose creating a Turkish-controlled buffer zone inside Iraqi territory. The idea has been proposed by Turkish opposition parties.

The PKK has been fighting for Kurdish autonomy in southeastern Turkey since 1984. The violence has killed at least 37,000 people.

The PKK is considered a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.

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

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