N.Iraq's Barzani ğledges support for Turkey's efforts to end terrorism
The northern Iraqi regional administration is ready to support Turkey's efforts to end terrorism as part of its democratic expansion initiative, and to ensure that the terrorist PKK lays down its arms, Massoud Barzani, the administration leader, said yesterday. Barzani made the remarks during a visit from Interior Minister Besir Atalay in his official residence in Salahaddin, northern Iraq, preceded by Atalay's visit to Erbil, the regional administration's capital. During the meeting, the two officials reportedly discussed developments following the approval in a referendum earlier this month of a major constitutional reform package in Turkey. Stressing the importance of the approval, Barzani said Ankara's initiative is in line with democratic principles. Stating that no problems can be solved through violence, Barzani said the regional administration stands ready to contribute to Turkey's efforts in this context. Barzani also welcomed a message of friendship from President Abdullah Gul and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan conveyed via Atalay. Barzani also told Atalay of Kurdish views on stalled efforts to form a new Iraqi government in the wake of the March general elections. Iraq has been locked into a political impasse since the elections, with various political groups from different sectarian and ethnic backgrounds failing to reach agreement on a government. As it enjoys good relations with all groups in Iraq, Turkey is continuing its efforts to help Iraqi political groups forge a broad-based national unity government to ensure stability in the fragile country. In related news, National Intelligence Organization (MIT) head Hakan Fidan is expected to visit northern Iraq next week to hold talks with Barzani, Iraqi security officials, and US military officers on disarming the terrorist PKK, as well as closing its bases and offices in northern Iraq. Fidan is also scheduled to hold talks on the command of a trilateral mechanism among Turkey, Iraq and the US meant to closely follow terrorist PKK activities in the region and help gather intelligence about PKK cross-border infiltrations from northern Iraq into Turkey. To the same end, Fidan also held talks with the US Central Intelligence Agency head Leon Panetta last week. Interior Minister Atalay is also scheduled to hold talks with his Syrian and Iranian counterparts on the same matter, and meet with representatives of non-governmental organizations in southeastern Anatolia.