USIS Washington 

17 September 1998


(Albright lauds pact between Kurdish parties) (1490)

Washington -- Two important Kurdish parties of northern Iraq have
agreed to a specific timetable to reconcile their decades-old
differences with the goal of power sharing, revenue sharing, and
elections next summer.

Jalal Talabani, leader of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), and
Massoud Barzani, the head of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP),
announced their agreement during a joint statement to the press at the
State Department September 17. Accompanying them was Secretary of
State Madeleine Albright.

The Secretary said the "renewed spirit of reconciliation between Mr.
Barzani and Mr. Talabani, exemplified in their joint meeting and joint
statement today, will make it easier for the United States and others
to help their people."

Barzani noted the KDP's "concern and interest for the unity of Iraq.

"What we have done," he said, is not against the interests of any
country in the region, but what we have done is to solve the existing

His sentiments were echoed by Talabani, who emphasized that "we are
not a separatist force; we are for strengthening the national unity of

Following is the State Department transcript:

(Begin transcript)


Office of the Spokesman

For Immediate Release September 17, 1998




SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I am very pleased to welcome to the State
Department today two leaders of the Iraqi Kurdish people: Mr. Barzani
of the Kurdish Democratic Party, and Mr. Talabani of the Patriotic
Union of Kurdistan. As they will indicate shortly, their joint
meetings here this week have opened a new and hopeful chapter in their
efforts to work together on behalf of their people. Our sessions here
follow six months of working-level talks between the two parties in
northern Iraq and recent consultations by each in Ankara and London.

We welcome today's step forward. The United States has deep concern
for the safety, security and economic well being of the Iraqi Kurds --
Shi'as, Sunnis, and others -- who have been subject to brutal attacks
by the regime in Baghdad, including the Anfal attacks in 1988 and the
military campaigns in 1991. With others in the international community
we have sought to protect Iraqis from the repression of Saddam Hussein
and to address their humanitarian concerns. At the Security Council in
New York we have reminded our colleagues that the purpose of Council
Resolutions, particularly Resolution 688, is not restricted to Iraqi
weapons programs, but extends as well to the safety and protection of
the Iraqi populations in both the north and the south. All this is
fully consistent with our commitment to the territorial integrity and
sovereign unity of Iraq.

The renewed spirit of reconciliation between Mr. Barzani and Mr.
Talabani, exemplified by their joint meeting and joint statement
today, will make it easier for the United States and others to help
their people. They have set a timetable for resolving their
differences fully consistent with the principles laid down in the 1996
Ankara Accords. We encourage them and will help where we can to see
that this agenda is met. Without unity, the road ahead will remain
very difficult. With unity, there is every reason for the Iraqi Kurds
to look forward with hope.

As we meet, Iraq is threatening once again to end all cooperation with
UN weapons inspectors, this time in response to a Council decision to
suspend periodic reviews of Iraqi compliance with UN Resolutions which
responded in turn to Iraq's totally unacceptable decision in August to
halt cooperation with UNSCOM disarmament work. It is vital that the
Security Council respond in a firm and principled way to Iraq's
provocative and self-defeating acts. The Council cannot allow Iraq to
gain by starting yet another cycle of defiance and threats. Its
credibility and effectiveness are on the line. It, the Security
Council, must insist that Iraq comply with all relevant Council

The United States will decide how and when to respond to Baghdad's
actions based on the threat they pose to Iraq's neighbors, to regional
security, to vital U.S. interests, and to the Iraqi people, including
those in the north. We have not taken any option off the table. If
Iraq tries to break out of its strategic box, our response will be
strong and sure. But we will act on our own timetable, not Saddam

The United States looks forward to the day when Iraq can rejoin the
family of nations as a responsible and law-abiding member. To those
Iraqis inside and outside the country who want to build a democratic
future for their nation, I say: the United States is on your side.

The new Radio Free Iraq is preparing to broadcast directly to the
Iraqi people. We are gathering information regarding the atrocities
committed by Saddam Hussein to help the Iraqi exile community in its
campaign to bring him to justice. And, as today's meeting reflects, we
are intensifying our efforts to help Iraqis -- whether Arab or Kurd,
Shiite or Sunni -- to develop a deeper sense of common purpose and a
more effective strategy for achieving their future in a democratic and
pluralist Iraq.

Obviously, these measures are no panacea. It would not be responsible
to raise false hopes or expectations. But neither can we turn our
backs on the Iraqi people who have for too long been denied the
freedom, security and chance for prosperity they deserve. There can be
no more Anfals, no more campaigns to eradicate whole populations of
innocent men, women and children.

I welcome Mr. Talabani and Mr. Barzani and congratulate them for the
courageous steps they are taking; and on behalf of the United States,
I look forward to working with them further to promote the
humanitarian condition, human rights and safety of their people.

MR. MASSOUD BARZANI: (Through translator) First, I would like to thank
Secretary Albright and the Government of the United States of America
for their interest in the concerns and issues of our people and for
fostering our reconciliation and for hosting us here.

We have accomplished something important in the last few days. With
God's help, we must implement what we have agreed to, and we must
implement those things carefully and accurately. The basis for that
will be the good intentions and the support of our friends. Our people
are looking forward to the results of these talks. What we have
accomplished will ensure a prosperous future for our people.

Here I would like to affirm our concern and interest for the unity of
Iraq. What we have done is not against the interests of any country in
the region, but what we have done is to solve the existing problems.

Once again, thank you very much, Madam Secretary.

MR. JALAL TALABANI: It is a historic day. We closed a sad chapter of
the history of the Kurdish people, who suffered too much in their
history. It is a new day, and I hope that it will be a day that we
both, Mr. Barzani and myself, and our two parties, the PUK and KDP,
will do their best to implement this historic accord which we have
achieved with the support of our American friends, especially
Secretary Albright, whom we are very much grateful to her -- to her
personal contribution, to her personal encouragement and advice to us,
and to our friends. Among them I want to mention the important role of
our friend David Welch, who took the risk of visiting us in Iraqi
Kurdistan and preparing for this meeting here, and of course for all
other friends here in the State Department, in the White House, and
everywhere, who supported us in achieving this historic and important

Our people are looking forward to having a united, democratic,
federative Iraq. It is an opportunity for us to assure that we are not
a separatist force; we are for strengthening the national unity of
Iraq. We are not working with any states in the area. On the contrary,
(inaudible) will have to have peace and stability in the area which
help all neighbors of Iraq.

We are for better relations with the United States of America. The
Kurdish people will never forget that the United States of America and
the Secretary of State, friends from the State Department and from
other Departments that helped us reach this important accord. We will
remain as a Kurdish faithful nation grateful to them. I hope it will
help to strengthen relations between American people and Iraqi people,
Kurdish people included.

Again, I express my appreciation and gratitude to Madam Albright and
to other friends in the State Department. Thank you very much

(End transcript)