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Turkish delegation in Baghdad for talks on incursion

Turkey sent a delegation to Baghdad yesterday for talks with Iraqi officials as it pressed ahead with a cross-border offensive against Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq, the foreign ministry said.
The Turkish officials will meet Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari and US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker "to discuss ways of improving bilateral relations with Iraq in every field," the statement said.
The delegation comprises Murat Ozcelik, Turkey's deputy special representative to Iraq, as well as Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's chief foreign policy advisor Ahmet Davutoglu and deputy undersecretary Hakan Fidan.
Turkish forces stormed into northern Iraq today evening to crack down on bases of the the separatist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), bombing rebel positions in the mountainous region and fighting the militants on the ground.
Iraq has condemned the operation as an "unacceptable" violation of its sovereignty that threatens bilateral relations.
US Defence Secretary Robert Gates was expected yesterday to discuss the incursion with Turkish leaders in Ankara today.
The PKK, listed as a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States and much of the international community, uses camps in northern Iraq as a springboard for attacks on Turkish territory as part of its bloody 23-year campaign for self-rule in the country's south-east.
The conflict has claimed more than 37,000 lives so far.

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