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Saturday, March 05, 2005

Northern Iraq - Kurd - Shi'ite - Turkey / Latest Developments

Iraq’s northern oil centre -- Kurds’ bottom line in coalition talks

KIRKUK, Iraq, March 4 (AFP) - 16h35 - For Iraqi Kurds, restitution of the northern oil centre of Kirkuk after decades of ethnic engineering under Saddam Hussein is a non-negotiable demand, but for the Shiite majority it is a surefire way of further antagonising the ousted Sunni Arab elite.

As talks on forming a new government entered a second month, the two big winners of landmark January 30 elections remained far apart on the city’s future Friday, amid Shiite determination to hold out an olive branch to Sunni Arabs to ween them away from their long-running insurgency.

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Turkey has 1,357 soldiers in northern Iraq to fight Kurdish rebels: Defence Minister

ANKARA, March 4 (AFP) - 16h09 - The Turkish army has deployed 1,357 soldiers in northern Iraq to fight Kurdish separatists, Defence Minister Vecdi Gonul, press reports said Friday.

Gonul, in answer to parliamentary questions Thursday, said the Turkish troops, deployed since 1992 in the Kurdish region of northern Iraq, were there mainly to pursue the Kurdish separatist Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

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