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Bush sees 3-way fight against PKK

  • Story Highlights
  • Bush: U.S., Turkey and Iraq must unite against PKK Kurdish separatists
  • Iraqi Kurds are critical of both PKK and air attacks against them
  • Turkey bombed alleged PKK sites in northern Iraq over the weekend
  • PKK has spent 20 years fighting for autonomy in Turkey; uses Iraq as a base
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- U.S., Turkish and Iraqi leaders all held talks Monday about Kurdish rebels using northern Iraq as a launchpad for cross-border attacks into Turkey.

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Turkish troops patrol near the border with Iraq on Monday.

President Bush chatted by phone with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, while separately two senior Iraq national government figures met with the head of the country's Kurdish region.

The diplomatic moves came after Turkish warplanes pounded Kurdish separatist targets in northern Iraq on Saturday and Sunday as well as last week.

Bush and Erdogan talked about the dangers of the Kurdish separatist rebels along the Turkish-Iraqi border, the White House confirmed.

National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe said they discussed their common efforts to fight terrorism, and the importance of the United States, Turkey and Iraq working together to confront the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK.

Bush has vowed to help Turkey fight PKK rebels.

The PKK has spent two decades fighting for autonomy for Kurds in southeastern Turkey, with some of its attacks launched from inside northern Iraq. The United States and European Union consider the group a terrorist organization.

Last week, Turkey's ambassador to the United States, Nabi Sensoy, said his country's maneuvers against Kurdish militant targets in northern Iraq were based on intelligence provided by the United States.

In the Kurdish Iraq city of Sulaimaniya, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, who is Kurdish, and Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi, who is Sunni Arab, met with Kurdish Regional Government President Massoud Barzani.

Iraqi Kurdish officials, while critical of the PKK, have denounced the Turkish bombing campaign. Last week, Barzani snubbed visiting U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in protest of the attacks.

"We have vehemently condemned the bombardment. The bombing targeted safe and secure areas and innocent people. Several people were either killed or wounded," Barzani said on Monday at a press conference with the others.

"We held consultations with President Jalal Talabani and we will continue our consultations with other concerned parties to put an end to these aggressions and put to an end the shelling of villages."

The three Iraqi officials also dealt with national unity. They signed a "memorandum of understanding" to deepen relations further with their three parties: Talabani's Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, Barzani's Kurdistan Democratic Party and al-Hashimi's Iraqi Islamic Party, a Sunni Arab entity. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

CNN's Kathleen Koch, Talia Kayali and Mohammed Tawfeeq contributed to this report

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