US, Iraqi and Turkish officials were to hold three-way talks in Baghdad today, part of efforts to boost cooperation against Kurdish separatist fighters who use Iraq as a base for attacks on Turkey.

The delegations are headed by Iraqi Minister of State for National Security Shirwan al-Waeli, Turkish Interior Minister Besir Atalay and US Ambassador Ryan Crocker, and include both civilian and military officials, the US embassy said.

Turkey has stepped up cross-border air strikes and shelling of northern Iraq since rebels from the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) killed 17 Turkish soldiers in an ambush in southeastern Turkey last month.

Turkey accuses Iraq of failing to rein in the fighters, and the issue has strained relations between the two neighbours.

Washington and Baghdad both consider the PKK a terrorist group and say Turkey has a right to take limited cross-border action against the fighters. But they fear a large-scale Turkish military response could destabilise northern Iraq.

The top US commander in Iraq, General Ray Odierno, visited Turkey last month to discuss efforts to fight the PKK. Turkish officials have also visited Baghdad to discuss the issue in recent weeks.

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