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Region | Iraq

Meeting: Kurdish leaders snub Rice

The president of Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdish region refused to meet US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Tuesday because of Washington's tolerance of Turkish military attacks, his prime minister said.

  • Reuters
  • Published: 22:59 December 18, 2007
  • Gulf News

Baghdad: The president of Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdish region refused to meet US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Tuesday because of Washington's tolerance of Turkish military attacks, his prime minister said.

Rice's unannounced visit to Iraq was overshadowed by an incursion by about 300 Turkish soldiers into the Kurdish province of Dahuk.

The operation was condemned by the Iraqi Kurdish government of President Masoud Barzani, which has also criticised US tolerance of Turkish previous air and artillery strikes targeting separatists based in northern Iraq.

"There was supposed to be a meeting between Rice and Mr Masoud Barzani in Baghdad, but because of the US position regarding the Turkish attacks and bombings, he preferred not to go," Kurdish Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani told reporters.

"The United States supervises [Iraq's] air space, so it is not possible that a violation of this air space occurs without the knowledge or approval of the Americans," he said.

Rice, speaking later at a news conference with Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari, said Turkey, Iraq and the US had a common interest "in stopping the activities of the PKK".

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