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Sunday, August 13, 2006

Iraq will not be sanctuary for Turkey's Kurdish separatists: Maliki

ANKARA(AFP)-Iraq's Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki reportedly assured Turkish leaders that his country will not be a sanctuary for Kurdish separatist rebels from Turkey.

"We will not allow Iraq to serve as a base for the PKK (Kurdistan Workers' Party)," Maliki told Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in a telephone conversation, according to an Erdogan advisor cited by the Anatolia news agency.

Maliki also indicated that Iraq would continue to work with the United States and neighboring Turkey in its fight against the outlawed PKK, considered a terrorist organization by Ankara, Washington and the European Union.

Turkey last month threatened to intervene militarily at the Iraqi border against PKK camps there if Baghdad and Washington failed to take action.

Turkey has long complained about the PKK using camps in northern Iraq as rear bases for its attacks in southeast Turkey, where it is fighting for Kurdish self-rule.

Thousands of PKK members have settled in northern Iraq's Kurdistan region since 1999, when the group declared a ceasefire after the arrest of the separatist movement's chief, Abdullah Ocalan, who is serving a life prison sentence.

The ceasefire was broken in June 2004. Fighting between Turkish security forces and PKK rebels has claimed more than 37,000 lives since the start of the insurrection in 1984
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