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Turkey hosts Iraq security talks

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    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7076233.stm Last Updated: Saturday, 3 November 2007, 01:46 GMT Turkey hosts Iraq security talks Turkey has tightened
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 2, 2007
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      Last Updated: Saturday, 3 November 2007, 01:46 GMT

      Turkey hosts Iraq security talks
      Turkish police on guard at Ankara airport as Condoleezza Rice arrives
      Turkey has tightened security for its high-level guests
      A second round of major international talks on promoting security and stability in Iraq gets under way in the Turkish city of Istanbul on Saturday.

      Foreign ministers of all six of Iraq's neighbours are gathering along with top diplomats from the UN, the G8 and international Arab and Islamic bodies.

      The first round was held in Egypt in May, but despite good intentions it was short on tangible results.

      Tensions on Turkey's border with Iraq may overshadow Saturday's meeting.

      At Sharm el-Sheikh in May, an agreement in principle was reached to forgive Iraq some $30bn in debts.

      Before setting off for Istanbul, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki said that this time Baghdad would be hoping for practical steps, not just vague words.

      The Iraqis will be pointing to a consistent reduction in virtually all forms of violence in recent months and arguing that providing services and generating jobs will be vital to sustaining that achievement, the BBC's Jim Muir reports from Baghdad.

      Eyes on Rice

      As with the previous meeting, much of the emphasis will be on getting the neighbours and other powers involved in Iraq to cooperate in stabilising the country, our correspondent says.

      Istanbul's Ciragan Palace on 2 November
      Istanbul's Ciragan Palace is hosting the conference

      A lot of interest will again be focused on the chemistry between US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and her counterparts from two significant regional players with which Washington is at odds, Iran and Syria.

      Any positive interaction there could benefit not just Iraq but also Lebanon which is currently deadlocked in a crisis over presidential elections, our correspondent notes.

      Those attending the conference include representatives of the permanent members of the UN Security Council, the Arab League and the Islamic Conference Organisation.

      Security is high in Istanbul where demonstrators have been protesting at Ms Rice's presence in Turkey. One placard showing her dressed as a PKK militant said "Terrorist Rice go home".

      Border talks

      What the Iraqis themselves do not want to see, our correspondent adds, is the conference being sidetracked by the acute border tension with their Turkish hosts over the activities of the rebel Kurdish group, the PKK.

      Anti-US protesters in Istanbul on 2 November
      Ankara has been talking tough for so long, many here feel it is time for action
      Sarah Rainsford
      BBC correspondent, Istanbul

      They do hope the gathering will help produce a detente but hope that this will come in contacts outside the conference chamber.

      Turkey is pressing Washington to do more to stem PKK activity from Iraq.

      Foreign Minister Ali Babacan had talks in Ankara on Friday evening with Condoleezza Rice after which she said the PKK were a "common enemy".

      "This is where the words end and action needs to start," Mr Babacan said for his part.

      He and Ms Rice are due to have more talks on Saturday, on the sidelines of the conference, with Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari also attending.

      But analysts expect that any major announcement about the border situation will be kept for a summit between President George W Bush and Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan being held in Washington on Monday.

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