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Iraqi Leader Warns Turkey Against Incursion In Kurdish Region

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Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has warned Turkey against staging cross-border raids against Kurdish militants in northern Iraq. Mr. Maliki said Saturday he will not allow Iraq's largely peaceful Kurdish region to become a battleground.

Speaking alongside Iraqi Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani, Mr. Maliki said they refuse to allow Iraq to be used as a base to attack neighboring countries.

Turkish authorities say Kurdish militants in northern Iraq launch cross-border attacks on Turkey. Turkish forces have been massing near the Iraq border as speculation grows about a possible incursion into Iraq.

On Friday, the Turkish military also issued a strong warning to Iraqi Kurdish authorities after Turkish officials said Kurdish security forces harassed a group of Turkish officers at a checkpoint.

Mr. Maliki also said Iraqi officials have not discussed establishing long-term U.S. military bases in the country.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates told reporters earlier this week that American officials are looking at plans for a long-term military presence in Iraq similar to U.S. bases in South Korea. Mr. Gates said the arrangement would be based on a mutual agreement with the Iraqi government and would limit what U.S. forces could do in the country. - VOA News

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