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Turkey Not To Extradite Fugitive Iraqi Vice-President

Turkey will not extradite fugitive Iraqi Vice-President Tariq al-Hashemi to Baghdad despite an Interpol arrest warrant pending against him.

Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag told the Parliament on Wednesday that Hashemi would not be extradited to Baghdad as Turkey had never received a positive answer from Iraq to its extradition requests for outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) terrorists believed to be in Iraq.

"We also have some requests from Iraq. The terrorist organization [the PKK], its leaders and members are harbored in that country and attack Turkey from there. We have demanded their extradition but we have not received a positive answer so far," Turkish media quoted him as telling the lawmakers. "Turkey won't extradite someone who the government has supported from the very beginning."

His statement comes a day after Interpol issued a Red Notice for Hashemi, who is wanted in Iraq for standing trial on charges of "guiding and financing terrorist attacks."

Confirming that Hashemi is still in Turkey and is receiving medical treatment, Bozdag said the government's stance was clear with regard to the issue. It was equally important that Bozdag recalled that Baghdad had never implemented the bilateral extradition treaty and never arrested the terrorists that Turkey has officially requested for extradition.

Hashemi, one of the senior Sunni politician of Iraq, arrived in Turkey nearly a month ago after fleeing Baghdad in the wake of the government issuing an arrest warrant for him. He traveling to Qatar and Saudi Arabia, where he sought support in his legal struggle against Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

Meanwhile, Turkish President Abdullah Gül repeated that each and every ethnic and sectarian group in Iraq was equally important to Turkey, and that Turkey had never favored one group over another.

"For us, Sunnis, Shiites, Kurds, Turks, and Arabs are all brothers. What we look at is who is on the right path and who is not," Gül said. Urging Iraqi politicians to embrace all segments of their society without discrimination in a move to stop bloodshed, Gül said: "This is the only thing we want to see in Iraq."

by RTT Staff Writer

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