Turkey, Iraq seek further measures against terror

Turkey, Iraq seek further measures against terror

Turkey, Iraq seek further measures against terror

Cooperation in the war on terror was the main focus of talks between foreign ministers Zebari and Davutoğlu

Iraqi officials have presented Ankara with new proposals to curtail the activities of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in the country’s north in a bid to head off Turkish cross-border operations against the militant group.

“We are discussing how to deepen our agreement on the struggle against terror. We have decided to strengthen a tripartite mechanism between Turkey, Iraq and the United States,” Iraqi Deputy Foreign Minister Labeed Abbawi told private Turkish broadcaster NTV yesterday following meetings with Turkish Foreign Ministry officials in Ankara ahead of the arrival of Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari.

Zebari held meetings with President Abdullah Gül and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu late yesterday.

Ahead of the foreign ministers’ talks, Abbawi said Iraq was opposed to a Turkish military incursion into northern Iraq. Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Beşir Atalay, however, said a cross-border operation could be considered “if necessary.”

Abbawi said they would take extra measures against the alleged PKK presence at the Makhmour refugee camp, a United Nations-camp in northern Iraq that Ankara claims is a prime recruiting ground for the Kurdish militants.

“We want the Makhmour Camp to be closed sooner or later. We’ll give camp residents identity cards, so that will control entrances and exists,” Abbawi said, adding that they had made several proposals to Turkey for the return of refugees in the camp but had yet to reach a solution. 

Turkey has long been pressing for the closure of Makhmour, arguing that it is controlled by the PKK and serves as a supply base of fresh militants to the organization.

The PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the European Union.

Answering a question on Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s statement about sending Iraqi troops to the country’s north, Davutoğlu said he thought the prime minister’s statements were positive.

“If Iraq [guards] its own territories and borders, there is no need for Turkey to stage a cross-border operation,” he said. 

Davutoğlu said terrorism, along with an upcoming meeting of the bilateral cooperation council to be held in Turkey later this year with the participation of al-Maliki, would be on the agenda of his talks with Zebari.

Zebari arrived in Ankara yesterday and was set to attend dinner with Davutoğlu as the Hürriyet Daily News went to press. He is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan today in Istanbul and is also expected to attend the opening of the Iraqi consulate in the southeastern province of Gaziantep, near the Syrian border.

‘Look to Iran on Karayılan claims’

Replying to a question on allegations that senior PKK leader Murat Karayılan was captured by Iran before being released, Davutoğlu said statements made by authorities must be taken into account and that anything else was mere speculation. “It should be known that this issue is under our close scrutiny.”

There is always extensive cooperation in the fight against terrorism between Turkey and Iran, Davutoğlu said, adding that their cooperation was continuing