Kurdish official rushes to Ankara to pledge cooperation on counterterrorism
Nechirvan Barzani, the number two of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and a former prime minister of the Kurdish regional administration in northern Iraq, arrived in Ankara on Thursday to express solidarity and cooperation with Turkey in its fight against the terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).
The Kurdish official said Massoud Barzani, the leader of the regional administration, will also pay a visit to Turkey soon in a show of cooperation with the Turkish state in its counterterrorism efforts.
Barzani was in Ankara on Thursday meet with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu. Barzani's trip comes one day after a series of attacks by the terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in Turkey's southeast that left 24 soldiers dead. Davutoğlu received Barzani in the morning at his office in Ankara and the two reportedly discussed cooperation against the PKK.
Speaking to reporters after his meeting with Davutoğlu, Barzani said he rushed to Ankara to offer the condolences of the Kurdish regional government to Turkey. Stating that they believe that such attacks do not serve the interests of either the Turkish or Kurdish people, he said such attacks should not damage Kurdish-Turkish relations. Stating that bilateral meetings with Turkish officials will be held more often, Barazani underscored that the regional administration's cooperation with Turkey will expand in many areas.
The Kurdish official also praised the Turkish government's democratic initiative, launched in 2009 to address the country's Kurdish issue by expanding the rights of the Kurdish population, terming the steps taken as part of the initiative as “bold.”
The Iraqi Kurdish politician is also scheduled to meet with Erdoğan in the afternoon.
Meanwhile, the Iraqi Foreign Ministry on Thursday condemned Wednesday's PKK assaults and said it would cooperate with Turkey on maintaining security to prevent such attacks in the future.
“The Iraqi government condemns the PKK's terrorist acts ... and confirms again that Iraq will not be a shelter and harbor any foreign terrorist armed groups,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
“The Iraqi government and the Kurdish Regional Government are committed to maintaining border security and security cooperation with the Turkish government to prevent such acts from being repeated,” the statement said.
Iraqi officials in Baghdad say it is difficult for them to control the rugged area where PKK terrorists have their camps. Turkish, Iraqi and US officials meet often to discuss security.
According to Turkish officials, and in what has been taken as a sign of deep mistrust, Davutoğlu told his Iraqi counterpart Hoshiyar Zebari during a phone conversation on Wednesday that “it is not time to condemn,” but “to take concrete steps.”
Turkey launched a cross-border offensive against the PKK after the group staged simultaneous attacks on Turkish military and police targets along the border on Wednesday, killing 24 soldiers and wounding 18 others. About a dozen warplanes flew several bombing sorties out of two military bases in the country's southeast until sunrise.