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Turkish Interior Minister in Iraq for Talks on Kurdish Rebel Problem

A Turkish media report says Interior Minister Besir Atalay traveled to Iraq Saturday to discuss the fight against Kurdish rebels who operate on both sides of the Turkey-Iraq border.

The Anatolia news agency says the talks are part of a cooperation deal Turkey, Iraq and the United States reached last year.

Atalay says he expects Iraq to take tangible steps to work with Turkey to eradicate rebels from the separatist Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK.

Meanwhile, Turkey's military says seven rebels and two soldiers were killed in a clash late Friday in southeast Turkey, near the border with Iraq.

Reports say the fighting in Sirnak Province began after rebels opened fire on the soldiers. A military statement says security operations in the region will continue.

Many PKK rebels cross into Turkey from bases in Iraq. Their assaults on Turkish soldiers have triggered retaliatory cross-border attacks by the Turkish military, raising concerns in Washington and Baghdad that the conflict could destabilize northern Iraq.

Turkey, the United States and the European Union consider the PKK a terrorist group. The rebels have been fighting for autonomy in southeastern Turkey since 1984. Tens of thousands of people have died in the conflict.

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