(NDTV ) - Iraq is actively seeking cooperation with Turkey to fight terrorism and will not allow any more Kurdish separatist military activity from its soil, the Iraqi president told the Arab League on Monday.
'' Iraq is against all violent operations against Turkey,'' Iraqi President Jalal Talabani told reporters at the League's headquarters in Cairo. ''We are exerting all our efforts to stop the terrorism threat, which imperils both Turkey and Iraq,'' he said.The Iraqi leader's statement came as Turkish troops are poised for a possible cross-border offensive against militants from the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, hiding out in northern Iraq.
A series of hit-and-run attacks in Turkey by PKK rebels has left nearly 50 dead, primarily soldiers, since late September. The PKK is listed as terrorist group by Turkey, the European Union and the United States.
''We consider any military act against the government of (Turkish Prime Minister Recep) Tayyip Erdogan as an act against Iraq,'' said Talabani, himself an Iraqi Kurd.
Around one-fifth of Turkey's 70 million population are also Kurds, but Turkey refuses to recognize its Kurdish population as a distinct minority. It has allowed some cultural rights such as limited broadcasts in the Kurdish language and private Kurdish language courses with the prodding of the European Union, but Kurdish politicians say the measures fall short of their expectations.
Late October, Talabani had expressed his strongest criticism to date of the Kurdish rebels, stating that they should leave Iraq ''If they insist on the continuation of fighting.''
In his joint press conference with Arab League chief Amr Moussa on Monday, Talabani said he believed the best way to deal with the PKK was through ''political and media pressure to lay down weapons.''
Talabani also denied recent reports in the Arab media of an Israeli infiltration in the Kurdish town of Sulaimaniya in northern Iraq, calling them ''made up illusions.''
Asked about Iran's reported rising sway in his country, Talabani said that '' Iraq doesn't accept any influence.''
He conceded ''there are some interventions from some states in the internal affairs'' of Iraq, but insisted that, ''Iraqi policy is drawn by Iraqis, not under Iranian influence or any other influence.''