Demand for extraditing Kurd leaders

Baghdad says it can hand over 18 members of the Kurdistan Workers Party and not 153 as cited in the list given to visiting Iraqi delegation.

Gulf News

Ankara: Turkey gave a list of Kurdish rebel leaders to a visiting Iraqi delegation and demanded their extradition.

"We gave a list of [Kurdistan Workers Party] PKK leaders and asked for help from Iraq," Deputy Prime Minister Cemil Cicek said on CNN-Turk television yesterday. CNN-Turk television, citing unnamed Iraqi officials, said Turkey asked for the extradition of 153 PKK leaders.

Iraqi officials also said they could hand over at least 18 PKK members, the station reported. Iraqi leaders have said they had no power to go after Kurdish rebel leaders in mountainous areas and capture them.

Cicek expressed Turkey's desire to arrest all PKK members "to finish off the group". "Of course, we would like to win the extradition of all PKK members," he said. "There are those who can be tried on charges of being a member of a terrorist organisation and there are those who have carried out attacks against Turkey and served in the leadership of the group."

The Iraqi delegation met with Foreign Minister Ali Babacan and was expected to hold talks with Defence Minister Vecdi Gonul later yesterday.

Pay price

Cicek reiterated Turkey's determination to carry out an offensive if US-backed Iraqi government and the Iraqi Kurdish administration, which is in charge of security in northern Iraq, do not crackdown on the rebel group. Cicek said: "We will use our right stemming from international laws until the end."

"If some people will the price of it, they will pay it," Cicek said in an apparent reference to Iraqi Kurdish administration, which Turkey accuses of turning a blind eye to activities of the Kurdish rebels in their territory. Turkey has threatened to impose economic sanctions against northern Iraq.

The talks in Ankara were still under way even as Turkish war planes and helicopters reportedly bombed separatist hideouts in the border region inside Turkey.

State-run Anatolia news agency said the aircraft attacked suspected rebel positions detected during reconnaissance flights.

Iraqi Defence Minister Abdul Qader Al Obeidi and Minister of State for National Security Sherwan Al Waili were representing Iraq in yesterday's talks.

The Iraqis' visit came before a regional summit next week when Turkey is scheduled to host foreign ministers for a meeting about Iraq.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has proposed a meeting involving the United States, Iraq and Turkey during the November 1 to 3 gathering in Istanbul. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is expected to go to Washington almost immediately afterward to meet with US President George W. Bush.

Turkish lawmakers authorised the government last week to send its troops into northern Iraq to strike PKK bases.

Two Iraqi Kurdish officials were among the visiting Iraqis, but local Turkish media said Kurdish officials were not included in yesterday's meetings.