Turkish president arrives for historic Iraq visit

March 23, 2009 13:46


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Turkey's president began the first visit by a Turkish head of state in more than 30 years on Monday, seeking to press Iraqi leaders to stop Kurdish rebels from launching cross-border attacks in the north. Abdullah Gul is the latest in a string of foreign dignitaries making their first trips to Iraq as violence has declined drastically in the battered country. Shortly before his arrival, a bomb exploded on the western outskirts of the capital, killing at least five and wounding a dozen others. Gul was welcomed at Baghdad International Airport by Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari and other officials. He was to hold talks with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki during the visit. Turkey is pressing Baghdad and the Kurdish regional government to stop Kurdish rebels from launching cross-border attacks on Turkey from their bases in Iraq. The rebels have been fighting for autonomy in Turkey's southeast since 1984. The conflict has killed tens of thousands of people.

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