Iraqi President Jalal Talabani says a long-term security deal under negotiation between Iraq and the United States will not pose a threat to Iraq's neighbors.

In an interview Friday with VOA's Kurdish service in Washington, Mr. Talabani said Iraq's relations have never been as good as they are with other countries. He said he hopes all Iraqi groups understand the importance of the security deal with the United States.

The security pact would permit U.S. forces to remain in Iraq beyond December 31, when their U.N. mandate expires.

Mr. Talabani also told VOA that Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan will visit Baghdad next month, and that there will be a bilateral agreement. He said Iraqi Kurds and Turkey have improved relations following recent meetings in Baghdad, Iraqi Kurdistan and London.

Mr. Talabani has been in the United States this week, and reports say he underwent medical treatment. He met with President Bush at the White House on Wednesday.