الرئيسية » English Articles » Cheney meets with Kurdish leader Barzani ahead of Ankara talks

Cheney meets with Kurdish leader Barzani ahead of Ankara talks

Today’s Zaman with wires Ankara

US Vice President Dick Cheney, on a regional tour in the Middle East, held talks yesterday with Iraqi Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani in Arbil ahead of talks scheduled to take place in the Turkish capital within days.
Cheney’s visit to the region comes only weeks after a Turkish ground incursion into northern Iraq. The Turkish military began a ground offensive against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in northern Iraq on Feb. 21 and announced that troops were being withdrawn on Feb. 29. The offensive, the biggest anti-PKK operation in a decade, was ostensibly conducted with US acquiescence but with Washington underlining repeatedly that it must be limited in length and scope to avoid damaging Iraq’s stability. Turkish officials said the US provided intelligence support for the operation. “We are certainly counting on President Barzani’s leadership to help us conclude a new strategic relationship between the United States and Iraq as well as crucial pieces of national legislation in the days ahead,” Cheney, who flew from Baghdad to Arbil after a rally with troops, said, according to The Associated Press. Barzani called Cheney’s visit a “historic day” in Iraq’s Kurdish region. “We understand very well the importance of this visit,” he said.
“Indeed, I would like to reinstate our commitment that we will continue to play a positive role in order to build a new Iraq — an Iraq with a foundation of a great federal, democratic, pluralistic free Iraq. I would like also, Mr. Vice President, to assure you that we are committed to the constitution of Iraq and we will continue to be playing a positive role to be part of the solution, not part of the problem,” Barzani was quoted by AP as saying.
It was Cheney’s first visit to the Kurdish region. “It’s a visit that’s long overdue,” Cheney said. He said he and Barzani talked about the overall situation in Iraq as well as what is happening specifically in the Kurdish region. But Cheney did not specifically mention the problems with the PKK.