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Iraqi Kurdish Groups Aim for Detente

September 10, 2002|From Associated Press

ANKARA, Turkey — The leaders of the two main Kurdish factions that control northern Iraq have signed a reconciliation agreement as the United States tries to forge a united front against Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

The two Kurdish factions run an autonomous enclave in northern Iraq and can mobilize tens of thousands of fighters, but they have been deeply divided.

Jalal Talabani, leader of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, or PUK, and Massoud Barzani, head of the Kurdistan Democratic Party, or KDP, met over the weekend in the Iraqi Kurdish city of Irbil to confer on resolving their differences.

According to a joint statement, the two sides agreed to set up a committee to discuss "formulating a united political position on regional and international" issues. The two sides also agreed that a regional Kurdish assembly would meet Oct. 4.

The Kurdish enclave is protected by U.S. and British warplanes, which enforce a "no-fly" zone over northern Iraq. Allied planes over a southern "no-fly" zone bombed a military facility Monday in the third attack this week after coming under Iraqi fire, the Pentagon said.

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