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Iran, Turkey explore options on PKK

Atul Aneja

DUBAI: Turkey and Iran have begun exploring options to address the crisis resulting from the recent ambush of Turkish troops by the Kurdish PKK operating from northern Iraq.

Turkey’s Foreign Minister is on a visit to Iran where he discussed the crisis with his Iranian counterpart Manoucher Mottaki. Turkey is actively considering invading northern Iraq to attack the PKK hideouts located in the Kandil mountains there.

The PKK poses a common problem for both Turkey and Iran. The group’s sister organisation, the Party for a Free Life in Kurdistan (PEJAK), also operates from the similar mountain sanctuaries in the east against Iran. Turkey and Iran fear that the PKK’s aim is to form an independent state by carving out Kurdish enclaves in northern Turkey, Iran and Syria.

At a press conference with Mr. Babacan in Tehran on Sunday, Mr. Mottaki said, “Bilateral consultations and regional cooperation should lead to the cessation of terrorist measures in the region.”

Elevating Iran’s concerns further, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad telephoned his Turkish counterpart Abdullah Gul and discussed the crisis along the Iraq-Turkey border.

According to the Iranian state media, Mr. Ahmadinejad criticised the PKK, whose activities, he said, were undermining the interests of Turkey, Iran and Iraq.

The Iranian President also held telephonic conversations with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki and Kurdish leader Jalal Talabani. Relations between Iran and Turkey have been improving steadily in recent months following the commitment by both countries to promote trans-national energy projects.

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