A Saudi source has confirmed the arrival of the Iraqi Kurdish leader Jalal Talbani in Saudi Arabia, "to perform Umrah like any other Muslim".
Since U.S. President George W. Bush vowed to use "all tools" to oust Iraqi President Saddam Hussain, the international media added significance to the visit of Talbani to the Saudi kingdom.
According to several reports, Talbani arrived in Saudi Arabia at the head of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) delegation, Gulf News reported Sunday.
PUK is one of the two main Kurdish factions sharing control of northern Iraq, which Baghdad lost control during the 1991 Gulf war. The PUK shares control of the Iraqi Kurdistan with the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) of Massoud Barzani.
The PUK Foreign Affairs Chief Sadi Ahmad Pire was quoted as telling the press that Talbani, who is on his fourth visit to the Kingdom since the Gulf War, would stay in Saudi Arabia for several days and would hold talks with Saudi officials on matters related to the situation in Iraq.
He could not immediately provide the names of the Saudi officials with whom Talbani would meet, but emphasized the visit was part of the PUK's consultations with Iraq's neighbors.
Talbani has already visited Syria, Turkey and Iran since March this year. The PUK seems to be keen on sounding out Iraq's neighbors and exchange views with them, Pire said, adding that Talabani would also visit some other countries in the region, possibly Kuwait and Jordan.
In light of recent reports that Washington is preparing for a military assault on Iraq, the Western protected Iraqi Kurdish enclave is seen as a likely springboard for military action aimed at toppling the government of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. (Albawaba.com)
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