Erdoğan to meet with Barzani in Diyarbakır
Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (L) shakes hands with Iraqi Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani, during a two-day visit to Iraq at the airport in Arbil on March 29, 2011. (Photo: AP, Ceerwan Aziz)
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is set to meet with Massoud Barzani, the leader of northern Iraq's autonomous Kurdish government, in the southeastern city of Diyarbakır on Saturday.
Sources from the Prime Ministry said Erdoğan will meet with the leader of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) on Saturday on the sidelines of his program in the southeastern city. Erdoğan, who will be in Diyarbakır on Saturday and Sunday, is expected to hold a rally there.
The visit comes amidst Turkey's recent efforts to address the Kurdish conflict in the Southeast.
Erdoğan's ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) launched a settlement process last year to resolve the country's decades-old terrorism problem and has been holding talks with Abdullah Öcalan, the imprisoned leader of the terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), since then.
The government's move is supported by the Iraqi Kurdish government as well.
Erdoğan and Barzani are expected to discuss the settlement process, the role of the PKK in settlement talks and the situation of Syrian Kurds.
The Erdoğan-Barzani meeting comes at a time when disagreements between the KRG and the Democratic Union Party (PYD), a Syrian offshoot of the PKK, are growing deeper. The tension between the PYD and Barzani-supported Kurdish parties has become more apparent as Syrian Kurds recently gained ground in Syria's north after a fierce struggle with al-Qaeda-linked groups. The KRG has expressed its discomfort over the PYD's attitude in northern Syria, saying it has gone too far in committing violence against other Kurdish groups in Syria.