Meeting of US, Iraqi, Turkish officials follows Obama's promise that Washington will continue to cooperate with Ankara against Kurdish terror group.
By THE MEDIA LINE NEWS AGENCY
A three-party meeting including American, Iraqi and Turkish officials is taking place in the Iraqi capital Baghdad on Monday. Topping the agenda is a discussion on how to tackle the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) - deemed a terrorist organization by Ankara, the official Kuwaiti news agency KUNA reports.
The Turkish delegation is led by Interior Minister Besir Atalay, while the Iraqi delegation is headed by State and National Security Minister Shirwan Al-Waili.
During his resent visit to Turkey, US President Barack Obama promised that the US would continue to cooperate with Turkey against the PKK.
Following the fall of Saddam Hussein, an autonomous Kurdish region run by the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) was established in northern Iraq. It has traditionally been Kurdish dominated. Saddam tried to Arabize the region by forcing people from other areas to settle there.
Since it took up arms in the 1970s, the PKK has used the mountainous border area between the two countries to establish bases of operations from which it has launched its attacks. It is estimated some 22,000 people have died in fighting between the PKK and the Turkish army, and in acts of terrorism by the PKK.
In 2007, the Turkish military launched a limited operation against these PKK bases, but a major ground offensive was aborted due to American pressure and promises from KRG President Ma'soud Barzani that he would halt the PKK's activities.
Following Ankara's decision not to invade Iraq, the US offered to increase its information sharing with the Turkish army, in order to aid it in its fight against the PKK.
Barzani has been under pressure from the Iraqi government in Baghdad to control his area or else the national Iraqi army would be deployed there, thus greatly reducing the region's autonomy.
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