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Iraq bans PKK, labels it a threat to the country

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The Iraqi National Security Council on Thursday banned the activities of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) on its soil, calling it a threat to the country, as relations with neighboring Turkey are on a course of improvement, Agence France-Presse reported.

A high-ranking Turkish delegation had talks in Baghdad on Thursday, discussing key security and energy issues ahead of an expected visit by Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan, Defense Minister Yaşar Güler and intelligence chief İbrahim Kalın attended the talks with their Iraqi counterparts.

A joint statement following the security meeting said the presence in Iraq of the PKK, listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey and much of the international community, “represents a violation of the Iraqi constitution.”

According to the statement Turkey welcomed the Iraqi decision to “consider the PKK a banned organization.”

Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein said on X that  a wide range of bilateral and regional issues and the upcoming visit of Erdoğan were discussed at the meeting.

“We stressed the need to strengthen cooperation in the fields of security, trade, energy, water, education and everything that is in the interest of our countries,” Hussein added.

Relations between the two countries have been strained by repeated Turkish military operations against the PKK militants in northern Iraq as well as disagreements over oil exports and the sharing of scarce water supplies.

The dispute over oil exports from Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region has been a particular sticking point.

Nearly a decade after seeking international arbitration, the Iraqi federal government last year won recognition of its right to control Kurdish oil exports, and Ankara was ordered to pay $1.5 billion in damages for transporting them without Baghdad’s approval.

In protest, Ankara shut down the export pipeline.

Turkish foreign ministry spokesman Öncü Keçeli said Wednesday he hoped the pipeline would reopen “as soon as possible.” He added that President Erdoğan would discuss the details during his visit.

Erdoğan is expected to visit Iraq after the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, which ends in April, said the joint statement following the meeting.

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