Top US official says PKK common problem for US, Iraq

Top US official says PKK common problem for US, Iraq

November 30, 2007, Friday/ 20:24:00/ ALIHAN HASANOĞLU
The US deputy secretary of state has said Turkey, the US and Iraq share the same stance on the issue of the presence of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in northern Iraq."The PKK is threatening security," said US Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte at a late night news conference Wednesday after meeting Nechirvan Barzani, prime minister of Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdish region. "The three countries are determined to cooperate on this issue." Negroponte said a mechanism between Turkey and the US would resolve the problem and some of the existing mechanisms would be reinforced to deal with it, without elaborating. "We believe the problem will be resolved," he said.

For his part, Barzani said that the PKK is a common problem, adding that the Iraqi Kurdish administration has taken several measures against the group, which uses northern Iraq as a springboard for attacks on targets in southeastern Turkey. "There are measures we have taken. More checkpoints have been established in border areas and security measures have been increased," he said. "These measures are being implemented in a serious manner," he added.

Turkish officials acknowledge that there has been a change in the Iraqi Kurds' stance towards the PKK but Foreign Minister Ali Babacan said earlier this week that there have been no satisfactory measures taken yet by the Iraqi Kurds.

Negroponte, a former US intelligence chief and ambassador to Baghdad, is on a four-day visit to Iraq but there are no details about the remainder of his schedule. Speaking in Arbil, he noted that he had seen "a definite improvement in the security situation" in Iraq.

"There is a political process under way in parallel with the security achievements, including on national reconciliation and the oil law," he said. "We are very optimistic that the progress that has occurred in security will be matched with political progress. We think the political progress that has happened already is significant."

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