BAGHDAD Iraqi authorities have set up more checkpoints to restrict the movement of Kurdish rebel fighters and cut supply lines to their mountain hideouts, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari said on Wednesday.
Zebari also said Iraq was making "intensive efforts" to free eight Turkish soldiers captured by guerrillas from the rebel Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in fighting in southern Turkey.
"We are expecting to solve this matter, because these talks, which are going on through indirect parties, have reached an advanced level," he told a news conference in Baghdad with his visiting Iranian counterpart Manouchehr Mottaki.
Iraq is under mounting pressure from Turkey to take action against the PKK, which has an estimated 3,000 fighters in remote bases in the mountains of northern Iraq. Ankara last week rejected Iraqi proposals aimed at averting a major incursion by some 100,000 Turkish troops massed on the border.
"There is an increase in checkpoints to prevent the PKK from getting food and fuel. There are measures to prevent them from reaching populated cities," Zebari said.
Washington has said it does not expect Iraq to take military action against the rebels in their remote mountain bases, but Baghdad should establish a "lookout list" of rebel leaders and take steps to disrupt their supply lines.
Ankara says it will exhaust diplomatic channels before launching cross-border strikes, but Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan is under pressure to take firm action against the PKK after an upsurge in rebel attacks in southern Turkey.
Zebari said that in his talks with Mottaki he had warned of "serious consequences if there would be a major military incursion into northern Iraq by Turkish military forces. This will have consequences for the entire region".
He said he did not want this weekend's conference of Iraq's neighbors in Istanbul to be "hijacked by the current tension over the PKK's terrorist activities in Turkey".
"We want the meeting to focus on Iraq, Iraqi stability and security."