Turkey, Iraq, US to set up joint command center against PKK
Turkish diplomats said the new centre would be opened in coming weeks to be used for intelligence sharing for operational purposes against the PKK.
Turkey, Iraq and the United States have agreed to set up a joint command centre in northern Iraq to gather intelligence to fight PKK in the region, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari said on Friday.
Turkey has long complained to Iraqi and U.S. authorities about Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militants, who have carried out deadly cross-border attacks from camps in mountain areas of Iraq near the Turkish border.
"We agreed with (Turkish Foreign) Minister (Ali Babacan) to set up a joint command centre in Erbil," Zebari told a joint news conference with Babacan in Ankara, adding that the centre would include the United States.
PKK attacks have been a strain to Iraqi-Turkish ties, but Zebari said there was a "new climate of understanding and cooperation" between Iraq, Turkey and the regional government of Iraq's Kurdistan.
Babacan said diminishing PKK activities in northern Iraq was an "essential" element" in consolidating Turkish-Iraqi ties.
Turkish diplomats said the new centre would be opened in coming weeks and would be used for intelligence sharing for operational purposes against the PKK, which is fighting the Turkish state for an independent state.
Turkey has carried out air strikes and shelled PKK areas in northern Iraq over the past year. In early 2008 Turkey sent thousands of troops across the border in an attempt to flush out the PKK and end their cross-border attacks.
Turkey already has a small intelligence operation in Erbil.
The United States, NATO ally Turkey and the European Union consider the PKK a terrorist organisation. U.S. officials have been sharing intelligence information with their Turkish counterparts since last year to help Turkey's military strike PKK targets.
Reuters Last Mod: 24 Ocak 2009, 13:06