Turkish minister flies to Iraq for talks-sources

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ANKARA, Oct 23 (Reuters) Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan flew to Baghdad today for talks with Iraq's government in an effort to pressure Iraqi and US authorities to crack down on Kurdish guerrillas, officials said.

Babacan was expected to hold talks with Iraq's Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and other officials, the sources, who declined to be named, told Reuters.

Ankara has intensified its diplomatic drive to pressure US and Iraqi authorities to stop guerrillas of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) based in northern Iraq from carrying out deadly attacks inside Turkey.

Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday his government, under great public pressure to move against the rebels after a series of deadly attacks, would give diplomacy a few days before deciding what steps to take next.

PKK rebels killed at least 12 soldiers in an ambush in southeast Turkey near the border with Iraq on Sunday.

The PKK, which is considered a terrorist organisation by the United States, Turkey and the European Union, says it has also captured eight soldiers in weekend fighting.

Turkey has built up its forces along the border with Iraq in preparation for an incursion against rebel bases in northern Iraq.

REUTERS ARB DS1223

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