Iraq urges urgent Turkey talks, sends VP for talks

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BAGHDAD, Oct 16 (Reuters) Iraq sent a senior government official to Turkey today and called for urgent talks to head off an incursion by the Turkish army into Iraqi territory.

Turkey's parliament is expected to give the government the green light tomorrow to send troops into Iraq to hunt down Kurdish separatists blamed for a recent escalation in violence.

The prospect of NATO's second-largest army crossing into the semi-autonomous, oil-rich Kurdish region of Iraq helped push crude prices to an all-time high of 88 dollars a barrel today.

''The Iraqi government calls on the Turkish government to have an urgent dialogue between the two countries,'' Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said in a statement.

Iraq's Sunni Arab vice president, Tareq al-Hashemi, flew to Turkey today to discuss the issue of possible Turkish attacks in northern Iraq, his office said.

Dabbagh reiterated that Iraq wanted the Turkish government to pursue a diplomatic solution to end the festering crisis, not a military one.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki also called for a ''crisis cell'' in the government established to monitor developments along the Turkish border to meet today.

''We are ready to have urgent talks with senior officials in the Turkish government to discuss all the pending issues and to give guarantees which would regulate relations between the two neighbouring countries,'' Maliki's office said in a statement.

Maliki called for a tri-partite committee made of Iraq, Turkey and the United States -- which is responsible for Iraq's borders -- to be given time to find a solution to the crisis.

REUTERS GL RK1625

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