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Iran, and Turkey Mass at Iraq Border's


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Troops at border concern Baghdad



The Associated Press

Border troops alarm Iraq President Jalal Talabani.



BAGHDAD, Iraq — President Jalal Talabani expressed his concern Sunday over reported Iranian and Turkish troop concentrations on those countries' borders with Iraq.


Turkey has moved thousands of troops to the border region in what its military said was an offensive against Turkish Kurd guerrillas.


Iran also reportedly has moved forces to the border, and last week shelled a mountainous region inside Iraq used by Iranian Kurd fighters for infiltration into Iran, according to Iraqi Kurd officials. No casualties were reported from Friday's barrage.


Talabani said Iranian and Turkish forces have stayed on their sides of the border.


But "I have expressed my concern over these concentrations ... Iraq is a sovereign independent nation that won't let other nations interfere in its internal affairs," he said at a news conference with U.S. ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad in the northern city of Irbil.


Turkey has called on the United States to crack down on rebel bases in northern Iraq. But U.S. commanders, struggling to battle Iraqi insurgents elsewhere, have been extremely reticent to fight the rebels, who are based in the remote mountain areas in one of the few stable parts of the country.


Meanwhile, Khalilzad said planned talks between the United States and Iran over stabilizing Iraq must wait until an Iraqi government is formed. Talabani said he would participate in any talks.


"We see it as good that after an Iraqi government is formed, this issue can take shape," Khalilzad said.


"If the United States holds talks alone with Iran without an Iraqi government being formed, that would certainly be a problem for the Iraqi government," the Afghan-born Khalilzad said.


Once the government is formed, "we have no problem with meetings with Iranian officials," he said.


Prime Minister-designate Jawad al-Maliki was tapped Saturday to put together a government and has 30 days to do so.

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