Iraq's Kurds, Turkish delegation meet in Baghdad

A boy holds his brother as Iraqi police stands guard  during a routine search for weapons and explosives in Baghdad, Iraq, Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2008. (AP Photo/Loay Hameed)

A boy holds his brother as Iraqi police stands guard during a routine search for weapons and explosives in Baghdad, Iraq, Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2008. (AP Photo/Loay Hameed)

BAGHDAD (AP) -- Turkish officials on Tuesday pressed the president of Iraq's Kurdish enclave to crack down on the Kurdish separatists launching cross-border attacks from their Iraqi mountain sanctuaries.

It was the first direct talks in four years between Turkey and Massoud Barzani, president of the three-province semiautonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq.

The meeting was held as Turkish media reported that five Turkish soldiers were wounded Tuesday in a Kurdish guerrilla attack on a military convoy in southeastern Turkey.

Turkey has been pressing the Iraqi Kurdish administration to cut supply lines in its territory used by the guerillas of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, which has been fighting for autonomy in Turkey, and to arrest and hand over its leaders who live across the border in Iraq.

Turkish pressure has increased since PKK rebels killed 17 Turkish soldiers on the Turkey-Iraq border earlier this month. Iraqi Kurdish authorities condemned the Oct. 3 attack but the Turks are demanding more.

Iraqi Kurds, which have their own police and armed force, are largely responsible for security in the northern areas of the country where the PKK operates rather than U.S. or Iraqi government troops.

The Tuesday meeting took place in the U.S.-protected Green Zone and lasted about two hours, Turkey's state-run Anatolia news agency reported.

Turkey's special envoy for Iraq Murat Ozcelik was quoted as saying the talks were held in a "positive atmosphere" and that Turkey had communicated to the other side its suggestions concerning security.

A spokesman for the self-ruled Kurdish region in northern Iraq, Fouad Hussein, said earlier that the meeting was being held to discuss bilateral relations. He did not elaborate.

The PKK, branded a terrorist group by the United States and the European Union, has been fighting for autonomy in southeastern Turkey since 1984. Tens of thousands of people have been killed.

Iraqi Kurdish forces known as peshmergas had fought against the PKK alongside Turkish troops during incursions in 1990s. Turkey is again trying to win support of Iraqi Kurds against the rebels.

Barzani and other Iraqi Kurdish officials met regularly with Turkish officials during former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's regime. But relations cooled following the 2003 U.S.-led invasion as Kurdish national aspirations skyrocketed, and the last such meetings were held in 2004.


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