ANKARA, Aug. 1 (Xinhua) -- Visiting Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on Wednesday urged Massoud Barzani, president of Iraq's Kurdish semi-autonomous region, not to support a Syrian Kurdish party that is allegedly collaborating with the outlawed Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK).
A joint declaration of Turkey and the Iraqi Kurdish regional administration said "any attempt to exploit the power vacuum by any violent group or organization will be considered as a common threat, which should be jointly addressed."
Davutoglu and Barzani "emphasized their commitment to a swift peaceful political transition in Syria," said the statement, adding that all ethnic, religious or sectarian identities should be respected and their rights should be guaranteed and protected.
The Turkish foreign minister's visit to Arbil, the capital of Iraq's Kurdish region, came amid Turkey's concerns over Syrian Kurds who took control of northern districts of the conflict-hit country along Turkish border over the past two weeks following the withdrawal of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces from Kurdish-populated areas.
Turkey moved heavy weapons to its border with Syria, deploying tanks and anti-aircraft missile launchers ahead of Davutoglu's visit to Arbil. Turkey's security concerns on the PKK threat are a hot topic between the Iraqi Kurdish administration and Ankara for a long time.
For many years, Turkey has complained that Iraqi Kurds were not doing enough to eliminate the PKK presence in northern Iraq. Turkey and Iraq's Kurdish regional administration have built close ties over the past few years, after Barzani committed to supporting Turkey's struggle against the PKK.
The PKK, listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union, took up arms in 1984 in an attempt to create an ethnic homeland in southeastern Turkey. Since then, over 40,000 people have been killed in clashes involving the group.
Ankara is worried that the PKK, some of whose members recently transferred from Iraq to Syria, is also trying to gain ground in northern Syria and the region may turn into a new PKK stronghold as Assad forces withdrew to fight the Syrian rebels.
In his remarks last week, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened a military intervention in Syria, saying that Turkey will not allow a "terrorist" entity to be formed next to its border.
In northern Iraq, Kurds have carved out a semi-autonomous region, and fears are on the rise in Turkey that the same could happen on their doorstep in northern Syria.
Ahead of the Turkish foreign minister's visit to northern Iraq, officials from two Syrian Kurdish groups, namely the People's Council of Western Kurdistan and the Syrian National Kurdish Council also held meetings with Barzani.