Maliki to attend Iraq conference in Istanbul

Thursday 01 November 2007 20.40
Nuri al-Maliki - In Istanbul tomorrow for talks
Nuri al-Maliki - In Istanbul tomorrow for talks

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki will attend a conference on Iraq in Istanbul beginning tomorrow amid a crisis over Kurdish rebels holed up in northern Iraq.

The foreign ministers of Iraq and its neighbours, plus the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and the G8, will be at the meeting on Friday night and Saturday.

Meanwhile, Turkey has said it plans economic sanctions that would only target outlawed Kurdish militants and groups providing them with support in northern Iraq.

The government declined to say what the new measures would include but made it clear they would spare Turks and Iraqis not connected to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

Turkey has sent 100,000 troops to the Iraqi border, backed by tanks, artillery and aircraft, ready for a possible military incursion into northern Iraq against PKK militants there.

Turkey accuses Baghdad and Washington of failing to make good on promises to crack down on the bases the PKK uses in its separatist campaign for self-rule in Turkey's mainly Kurdish southeast.

Both Baghdad and Washington strongly oppose any unilateral Turkish action in northern Iraq on the grounds that it would destabilise the only relatively calm region of the war-torn country.

Iraqi deaths up in October

The number of Iraqis killed in insurgent and sectarian attacks rose in October, in a blow to a nine-month-old US troop surge policy.  

At least 887 Iraqis were killed last month, compared to 840 in September, according to the data compiled by the Iraqi government.  

As in previous months, the dead were overwhelmingly civilians, with 758 reported killed against 116 policemen and 13 soldiers.

The October death toll remained sharply down on the August figure of 1,770 but the increase on September dented boasts that the crackdown on insurgent and  militia violence was leading to a significant fall in casualties.