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Turkey, Iran agree anti-rebel deal -Turk official

By Elif Unal

ANKARA, Aug 12 (Reuters) - Turkey and Iran have agreed to cooperate against Turkish Kurdish rebels operating along their border, a Turkish official close to a recent round of talks said on Thursday.

He said a border cooperation agreement to be signed on Friday would contain pledges of coordinated action by the two neighbours against rebels of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

He did not elaborate.

The state-run Anatolian news agency said agreement had been reached on ``simultaneous operations'' against the PKK, classed by Turkey as ``terrorists.''

``Possible terrorist actions will be neutralised by the armed forces of Turkey and Iran acting on their own territory simultaneously in a planned and coordinated fashion,'' the agency said.

The deal came after three days of difficult talks between officials from the Islamic state and officially secularist Turkey.

``The deal will be signed tomorrow morning at 8.30 (0630 GMT),'' the Interior Ministry official told Reuters.

Turkey says its eastern neighbour shelters Abdullah Ocalan's PKK rebels, while Iran says Turkey harbours members of Iran's Mujahideen Khalq armed opposition.

The two sides exchanged files containing information on PKK and Mujahideen activity on each other's soil, the official said.

Tension between the two countries rose in July when Tehran accused Ankara of launching an air strike on Iranian soil in which five Iranians were killed.

Tehran demanded an apology and compensation for the alleged attack but Turkey denied hitting Iranian soil and said its air raid had been on Kurdish rebel bases in northern Iraq.

The official said said the dispute over the bombing incident would be resolved later.

The row between the two regional rivals was fuelled when Iran arrested two Turkish soldiers and held them for more than two weeks before releasing them on Monday, the day before the talks began.

Turkey said the soldiers had crossed the border in error.

After the first day of talks in Ankara the leader of the Iranian delegation said the quarrel over the Turkish incursions had been resolved.

But the Turkish official said the Iranian side still insisted on a Turkish apology and compensation over the alleged air attack in return for further cooperation against Turkey's separatist PKK guerrillas.

Ankara says PKK rebels fighting for self-rule cross from Iran to attack in Turkey's mainly Kurdish southeast.

Senior Turkish generals have accused Tehran of training and supporting the guerrilla movement, founded by condemned leader Ocalan. Iran denies it.

The conflict between Turkish forces and the PKK has cost more than 30,000 lives since the rebels took up arms in 1984. Turkey is determined to deny the guerrillas any foreign refuges.

Turkish threats of military action last year forced Syria to agree to prevent PKK activity on it soil, contributing to this year's capture of Ocalan in Kenya.


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