Iraqi Kurd Leader Says Won't Allow PKK to Attack Turkey

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The leader of Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region vowed Friday he would not allow Kurdish separatists to stage attacks in Turkey from northern Iraq, local media reported.

"We will use all methods including pressure" to deter the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) from launching cross-border attacks, Massud Barzani said, according to the CNN-Turk television.

"I will not allow the PKK to prevail in the region," Barzani was quoted as saying by the Anatolia news agency, after wrapping up two days of talks in Turkey.

"If the PKK continues to use arms, it will face consequences," the Iraqi Kurdish leader warned.

The PKK has long used bases in northern Iraq as a springboard for attacks into Turkey's southeast.

The PKK, listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey and by much of the international community, took up arms in Kurdish-majority southeastern Turkey in 1984, sparking a conflict that has claimed some 45,000 lives.

The Iraqi Kurdish leader's words were backed up by Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who urged Kurdish militants to lay down their arms.

"(Our) military operations will cease as soon as the PKK lays down arms," Erdogan said in televised remarks while on an official visit to Qatar.

Barzani met Friday with President Abdullah Gul and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.

"The issue of tougher action against the (Kurdistan Workers' Party) PKK was discussed ... during the meeting" between Barzani and Davutoglu, a Turkish diplomat told AFP.

The meeting also focused on developments in Iraq's domestic politics, the diplomat said, without elaborating.

Iraq has been mired in political crisis since U.S. forces withdrew from the country on December 18, pitting the Shiite-led government against the Sunni Iraqiya bloc.

After closed-door talks with Barzani on Thursday, Erdogan stoked further tensions with Iraq by accusing Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki of taking an "egocentric approach" in politics.

"The current (Iraqi) prime minister's treatment toward his coalition partners, his egocentric approach within Iraqi politics ... seriously concern Shiite groups, Mr Barzani and the Iraqiya group" -- the main Sunni-backed political bloc, Erdogan said, as quoted by local media.

Turkish-Iraqi ties have been marred by a political crisis that has stoked sectarian tensions in Iraq.

Erdogan's government has openly challenged Maliki, a Shiite, after his standoff with Iraqi Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi, who is accused of running a death squad.

On Friday, Erdogan said Turkey opposed Iraq's division along ethnic and sectarian lines.

"A divided Iraq will not be a strong neighbor," he said in Qatar.

Barzani also met Thursday with Hashemi, who has been sheltering in Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region but is currently staying in Istanbul.

"Hashemi is free and he can get back to northern Iraq if he wants to do so," Barzani was quoted as saying Friday.

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