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Kurdish Parties Agree to Merge Leadership

June 13, 2003|From Reuters

LONDON — Kurdish parties in northern Iraq agreed Thursday to merge their regional administrations in a move intended to give them a united voice after the U.S.-led war that ousted Saddam Hussein, Kurdish television said.

The leaders of the Kurdistan Democratic Party and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan endorsed the plan, according to a report by the KDP's satellite television channel, monitored by the BBC. KDP leader Massoud Barzani and PUK head Jalal Talabani attended a meeting in the northern Iraqi city of Dukan to set up a committee to oversee the unification of their administrations.

Iraq's Kurds share control of the mountainous area through their parallel, cooperating administrations. They acquired de facto autonomy from Hussein's rule thanks to U.S. and British air cover after the 1991 Persian Gulf War. But rivalry between the KDP and PUK flared into war in the mid-1990s until a U.S.-brokered cease-fire in 1997.

Kurdish leaders have put aside ambitions for a separate state in return for U.S. assurances of a fair deal from the Arab majority in post-Hussein Iraq.

Turkey fears that a united Kurdish region in Iraq, its southern neighbor, could fuel demands for a separate state among its own 12 million Kurds.

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