Iraqi PM Set to Visit Iran

A0192427.jpgTEHRAN (Fars News Agency)- Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki will visit Turkey to discuss Ankara’s mounting concern about Kurdish separatism next week and then continue to Iran for security talks, an official said.

The embattled premier will arrive in Turkey on Tuesday before traveling to Iran on Wednesday, government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said.

“The focus of (the Ankara) talks will be security and political ties. Turkish concerns about the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) on the border and the perceived threat to Turkey will be discussed in detail,” Dabbagh said.

Officials in Ankara said earlier this week that Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan had invited Maliki to discuss ways to deal with the safe haven enjoyed by separatist Turkish Kurd rebels in Kurdish-run northern Iraq.

Turkey has threatened to take military action in northern Iraq against camps run by the PKK – blacklisted as a terrorist organization by Ankara and much of the West – unless Baghdad or Washington curbs the rebels.

“We want good relations with Turkey and we are ready to tackle any problems,” said Dabbagh. Economic ties and the role that Turkey could play in helping reconstruction in Iraq will also be on the agenda, he said.

In Iran, where Maliki will make his second official visit as prime minister, Dabbagh said security issues would dominate the talks.

Iraq has been a strong advocate of two sets of landmark talks in Baghdad on security in the war-torn country between Iran’s ambassador to Baghdad Hassan Kazemi Qomi and US ambassador Ryan Crocker.

Washington has accused Iran of fueling the violence in Iraq. Both Tehran and Baghdad have vehemently rejected the allegations. Al-Maliki’s Dawa Party is closely allied with Iran as are other Shiite parties in his government, and al-Maliki lived in Iran for part of his long exile during Saddam Hussein’s rule.

The Iraqi government has said it wants good relations with Iran.

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