Iraqi Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani and Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei have discussed the fight against the terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and its Iranian offshoot, the Party for a Free Life in Kurdistan (PJAK), and have agreed to cooperate to ensure the security of their common border, a news report said on Monday.
Barzani had talks with Khamenei during a visit to Tehran on Sunday. The Iranian supreme leader told Barzani that Iran and Iraqi Kurds must closely cooperate against terrorism, Turkish private broadcaster NTV said.
Khamenei added that terrorist groups use Iraqi soil as a base for attacks on neighboring countries and urged joint measures to ensure border security. Barzani, for his part, agreed to Iran's cooperation proposal for border security.
Barzani's visit to Tehran comes before his planned trip to Turkey, slated for later this week. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who will meet Barzani on Saturday, Nov. 5, said in the wake of a deadly PKK attack on Oct. 19 that he asked Barzani to visit Turkey in order to discuss cooperation against the PKK. A total of 24 Turkish soldiers were killed in that attack in Hakkari, near the Iraqi border, prompting Turkey to launch a cross-border offensive into northern Iraq.
The PKK and PJAK use their bases in northern Iraq for attacks on Turkey and Iran. Lately, the PKK has said PJAK militants were withdrawn from Iranian territory back to the terrorist group's main base in Kandil Mountains in northern Iraq.
The Iraqi Kurdish administration, which runs northern Iraq, condemned the Oct. 19 attack, saying it is also an attack on Turkish-Kurdish brotherhood. Barzani's visit to Iran also comes as the US prepares for a troop withdrawal from Iraq by the end of 2011.
US President Barack Obama plans to withdraw his 40,000 troops from Iraq by the end of the year after negotiations on keeping some forces there as trainers for Iraqi security forces failed, a move some US politicians say could give Tehran more room to assert its influence.
Khamenei hailed the coming withdrawal of US troops from neighboring Iraq as a “golden” victory.
“The uniform stance of all tribes and religions in Iraq over America's pressure to get legal immunity for its occupying servicemen, and ultimately the coercion of America to exit Iraq, constitute a golden page in that country's history,” Khamenei was quoted as saying by Reuters after the meeting.