BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Arabic Persian Pashto Turkish French
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: Middle East  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
LANGUAGES
EDITIONS
Friday, 4 October, 2002, 17:10 GMT 18:10 UK
Iraqi Kurds reconvene parliament
Jalal Talabani of the PUK (L) and Massoud Barzani of the KPD at a previous meeting. Photo: KurdSat TV
Leaders have signed a deal to formalise the new peace
The Kurds of northern Iraq have reconvened their regional parliament in an attempt to strengthen their position should Saddam Hussein be deposed by American-led military action.


The meeting was most important step we have taken on the road to recovery and peace.

Massoud Barzani
KDP leader

The parliament emerged in 1992 when the Kurds held their first free democratic elections.

But since then it has been paralysed by feuding between the two main Kurdish factions, the Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (KUP).

In a message read out to the gathering, US Secretary of State Colin Powell praised the parliament for its efforts to establish a representative government.

Pledges

The Iraqi Kurdish national assembly came together again 10 years to the day after it first convened to endorse the Iraqi Kurds demand for autonomy.


We swear on Koran that we do not want anything more than (the autonomy) we are asking for

Jalal Talabani
PUK leader
The BBC's Jim Muir in northern Iraq says the internecine fighting which later broke out between the KDP and the PUK was on everybody's minds as deputies made their way into the chamber for the first time since 1996.

Addressing the session, KDP leader Massoud Barzani asked for the forgiveness of the families of those who died in the internal clashes.

He called the meeting "the most important step we have taken on the road to recovery and peace".

His counterpart from the PUK, Jalal Talabani, said the assembly should pass a law banning conflict between the Kurds.

Kurdish fighters
Fighting between Kurds reached its peak in 1996
The Iraqi Kurds are desperately keen to stress that they are not seeking independence.

They know that powerful neighbours who also have Kurdish minorities, are watching the situation with close and suspicious attention.

Turkey, in particular, is concerned that Iraqi Kurds might move toward independence and encourage separatists Turkish Kurds.

Mr Talabani said Iraqi Kurds were only after their own autonomous government.

"We are ready to swear on Koran that we do not want anything more than what we are asking for," he added.

Message from Washington

The revival of the parliament was the product of a long and slow reconciliation process in which Washington has played a key role.

But our correspondent adds that it has also been clearly spurred by concern that hostilities may break out in the region soon as the Americans try to unseat Saddam Hussein.

Hoshyar Zebarie, a leading KDP figure, said it was not a question of the Iraqi Kurds preparing for war - but more a case of putting their house in order as the storm clouds gathered.

A message of congratulation was read out at the session from Mr Powell.

"I am proud you are among the United States' partners in the fight against tyranny and injustice and that you share our vision of Iraq's future," the message said.

The two Kurdish leaders later told reporters that the Americans had not yet asked them for any bases, facilities, or other specific forms of military help.


Key stories

Analysis

CLICKABLE GUIDE

BBC WORLD SERVICE

AUDIO VIDEO

TALKING POINT
See also:

02 Oct 02 | Middle East
10 Sep 02 | Middle East
08 Sep 02 | Middle East
17 Mar 02 | Middle East
18 Jan 02 | Middle East
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Middle East stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Middle East stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes