Turkey, France to sign anti-terror accord: Ankara source

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French Interior Minister Claude Gueant will sign a counter-terrorism pact in Ankara next month amid a surge in violence by Kurdish rebels, a source close to the Turkish government said Wednesday.

The deal, to be signed on October 6 by Gueant and his counterpart Idris Naim Sahin, will see joint efforts "in the fight against terrorism," said the source, who did not not want to be named.

The accord will be the first of its kind signed between Ankara and a leading European Union member, the pro-government newspaper Zaman said, and will allow senior members of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) arrested on French soil to be extradited.

France, the main opponent along with Germany to Turkey's entry into the EU, has a complex relationship with Ankara.

The visit, which will also see Gueant meet Turkish President Abdullah Gul and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, comes amid intensified ttacks attributed to the PKK.

Earlier this month, Ankara threatened to launch a ground operation in northern Iraq where the separatist group has bases.

French authorities have meanwhile arrested a number of people with suspected PKK links.

A court will on November 2 rule on the fate of 18 Turks arrested in 2007.

Among the accused are Riza Altun and Nedim Seven, considered the PKK's representatives in Europe, who are suspected of financing the rebels.

The PKK, considered a terrorist organisation by Ankara, the EU and the United States, took up arms in Turkey's Kurdish-majority southeast in 1984, sparking a conflict that has claimed about 45,000 lives.

© 2011 AFP

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