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Talabani: Regional administration of northern Iraq asks PKK to leave
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10:06, March 08, 2008

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Iraqi President Jalal Talabani said on Friday that the regional administration of northern Iraq has pressed on the outlawed Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK) and asked it to either lay down arms or leave the region.

Talabani made the remarks at a joint press conference with his Turkish counterpart Abdullah Gul following their official talks at the Presidential Palace in the capital city of Ankara.

"The administration in northern Iraq told the PKK that they were causing a big problem in the region and asked them to leave," said Talabani.

Meanwhile, the Iraqi president stressed that the Iraqi constitution did not allow any armed groups to take shelter in its territories.

"As a Muslim country, we are against any group that ... stages armed attacks against our neighbors. We do not accept such thing," he said.

For his part, Gul called on the rebels of the PKK to lay down arms, saying that Turkey will never tolerate those who illegally carry arms and engage in terrorism.

Gul ruled out any tolerance to the PKK rebels in response to a question whether Turkey would consider nonmilitary solutions to end the conflict with autonomy seeking PKK rebels.

"First of all, the Turkish state will never tolerate those who illegally carry arms and engage in terrorism ... Whoever has gun in his hand should lay his weapon down," Gul said.

Terming the PKK as a trouble for both Turkey and Iraq, the Turkish president said the rebels who launch attacks on Turkey from Iraqi soil pose problems for both neighbors.

Talabani arrived here earlier in the day for a two-day working visit upon an invitation by Gul with an aim to improving bilateral relations between the two countries.

His tour came just one week after Turkey ended an eight-day large scale military incursion into northern Iraq against the PKK which was labelled by Ankara and Washington as a terrorist group.

Talabani, who was accompanied by several high-ranking officials, will hold talks with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday and is also expected to attend a meeting of the Turkish-Iraqi Business Council before returning to Iraq.

Talabani, a Kurd, has long said he was interested in visiting Ankara, but Turkey's former President Ahmet Necdet Sezer had refused to invite him despite strong economic and trade ties, worrying that Iraqi Kurds were supporting the PKK.

Source: Xinhua

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