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Turkey downplays Barzani's support for HDP

Now that Iraqi Kurdistan's president has left Istanbul, Turkey is denying reports that he had appealed to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to free several prominent Kurdish politicians from jail, probably because suggestions that Barzani was lobbying on behalf of Turkey's pro-Kurdish parties complicated Erdogan's efforts to woo Kurdish voters in the run-up to the April 16 referendum.
File Photo: Selahattin Demirtas, co-leader of the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), greets the crowd during a peace rally to protest against Turkish military operations in northern Syria, in Istanbul, Turkey, September 4, 2016. REUTERS/Osman Orsal/File Photo - RTX2RUA4

Controversy continues to swirl after Iraqi Kurdistan Region President Massoud Barzani’s visit to Turkey ended yesterday. Turkish government spokesman Numan Kurtulmus denied reports that the Iraqi Kurdish leader had appealed to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during a Feb. 25 meeting to free prominent Kurdish politician Selahatttin Demirtas and his fellow lawmakers in the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) from jail.

“These subjects did not come up,” Kurtulmus asserted. He said that regional peace, reviewing cooperation between Turkey and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the joint fight against terrorist organizations topped the agenda during Barzani’s meetings with Erdogan and Prime Minister Binali Yildirim.

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