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Turkish President Discusses Border Tensions in Baghdad

The leader of northern Iraq's largely autonomous Kurdish region, Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani, said his meeting with Turkish President Abdullah Gul helped improve relations between the two sides.

The men discussed border tensions, as well as other regional issues, in Baghdad, on the final day of Mr. Gul's visit to Iraq.

Tuesday's talks came after a spokesman for a Kurdish rebel group based in northern Iraq rejected Iraqi President Jalal Talabani's call to disarm.

Mr. Talabani warned the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, to lay down its weapons or leave Iraqi soil. He made the statement during a joint press conference with Mr. Gul in Baghdad Monday.

A PKK spokesman, Ahmed Deniz, told journalists that the PKK has no plans to heed the Iraqi president's call.

The PKK rebel group stages attacks in neighboring Turkey, and Turkey mounts cross-border military operations against the rebels.

Mr. Gul was the first Turkish head of state to visit Iraq in more than 30 years.

He said Monday that he hopes joint efforts from Turkish, Kurdish and Iraqi leaders will put an end to the PKK's cross-border activities.

Mr. Talabani visited Ankara one year ago in an effort to ease tensions caused by a Turkish military operation against the rebels in northern Iraq.

At that time, Mr. Talabani said Baghdad ordered northern Iraq's Kurdish regional government to pressure PKK fighters to give up their weapons. Kurdistan's government has stressed that it has no control over the rebels.

The PKK has been fighting for Kurdish autonomy in southeastern Turkey for about a quarter-century.

Some information for this report was provided by Reuters.