Iraqi Kurd leader Barzani to visit Turkey, France

2nd June 2010, Comments 0 comments

Iraqi Kurd leader Massud Barzani was heading to Ankara on Wednesday, just days after Turkish Kurdish rebels killed six soldiers in a deadly rocket attack on a naval base, officials said.

On his first visit to Turkey as regional president, Barzani, who heads northern Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan region, is to hold talks with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.

They are to discuss trade between Turkey and the Kurdish region, border security and Baghdad-Ankara relations, Iraqi Kurdish authorities said in a statement.

They said the president of Iraqi Kurdistan would travel on from Turkey to France for talks with President Nicolas Sarkozy and Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner.

Barzani last visited Turkey in April 2004, when he held the rotating presidency of the now defunct Iraqi Governing Council.

Wednesday's trip comes after separatists from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) based in Iraqi Kurdistan fired rockets at a Turkish naval base on Monday, killing six soldiers and wounding seven others.

The PKK, listed as a terrorist group by Turkey and much of the international community, took up arms in 1984 for self-rule in Turkey's Kurdish-majority southeast, sparking a conflict that has cost about 45,000 lives.

© 2010 AFP

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