Turkey, Iraq, U.S. to Meet in Ankara for Talks on Fight Against PKK

ANKARA (Combined Sources)–Senior officials from Turkey, Iraq and the United States will meet in Ankara on Tuesday to discuss closer cooperation against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, a Turkish government official said, AFP reported.

Turkey and Iraq will be represented by their interior ministers, said the official, who requested anonymity. It was not clear who would head the U.S. delegation.

“It is going to be a meeting about intelligence sharing and the issue of the PKK will be taken up,” said the official.

The three countries have stepped up efforts to fight the PKK, which has been forced to set up defensive positions in northern Iraq in response to a Turkish offensive. The group, which seeks equal rights for Turkey’s oppressed Kurdish minority, is considered a terrorist organization by Washington, the European Union and Turkey.

The PKK has for 25 years been seeking a Kurdish homeland in southeast Turkey, where they make up the majority. Their cross-border attacks have strained regional ties in the past, but this month the three countries agreed to set up a joint command centre in north Iraq and hold periodic meetings.

Ankara has accused the Iraqi Kurds, who run an autonomous administration in northern Iraq, of tolerating and even aiding the PKK. Aided by US intelligence, Turkey has bombed PKK camps in northern Iraq since December 2007 under a parliamentary authorization that expires in October.

Turkey’s attacks are believed to have greatly weakened the Kurdish freedom fighters, whose attacks on Turkey have dropped in recent months.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday the government was working on steps aimed at peacefully solving the Kurdish problem, a cause of decades of violence and poverty in southeast Turkey.

Analysts have forecast that Ankara will unveil reforms within a month to pre-empt a “road map” on the issue which jailed PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan is expected to announce on Aug 15.

The PKK said last week it was extending a unilateral truce by six weeks until September 1 in anticipation of Ocalan’s proposals.

Despite gestures to the Turkish government, Ankara has failed to draw up a clear and genuine strategy to redress the decades of state sponsored oppression the Kurds have been subjected to. Ankara has also ruled out any dialogue with the PKK and has rejected calls to grant them amnesty.

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