ANKARA (AFP) - The Prime Ministers of Turkey and Iraq vowed Wednesday to step up their cooperation in the fight against Turkish Kurdish rebels whose presence in northern Iraq has cast a shadow over relations. The thorny issue of rebels from the separatist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) sheltering in neighbouring Iraq was at the centre of talks during a visit in Ankara by Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. "We should not allow terrorist organisations, in particular the PKK, to weaken our relations," Maliki said during a working lunch with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan. "There is a shared willingness to reinforce our cooperation," said Maliki, who earlier held talks with Turkish President Abdullah Gul. Maliki said the goal of his visit was to set up the supreme council of strategic cooperation, which had been announced during Erdogan's visit to Baghdad in July. The council will include both premiers. Erdogan said the fight against "terrorism" was a common issue for the neighbouring nations. "Our joint fight will continue," he said. Turkish warplanes have since last year bombed PKK hideouts in the region and the Iranian military has also targeted the militants. Maliki expressed support for a committee established between Iraq, Turkey and the United States last month to examine the threat posed by PKK and find strategies to fight the group. "We are here to defend all the interests of both countries," said Maliki, who was accompanied by his trade, electricity and public works ministers, according to Anatolia news agency. Ankara has sought close relations and economic cooperation with Baghdad but the safe haven the PKK enjoys in neighbouring northern Iraq has cast a shadow on bilateral ties. The trilateral committee has renewed hopes for greater cooperation against the rebels. The PKK, listed as a terrorist group by Ankara and much of the international community, took up arms for self-rule in Turkey's Kurdish-majority southeast in 1984, sparking a conflict that has claimed about 44,000 lives. On the eve of Maliki's visit, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, a Kurd, gave fresh assurances that both Baghdad and the Kurdish administration of northern Iraq were determined to purge the region of the PKK. "We, the Iraqi Kurds, will no longer allow armed people from any Kurdish group to use our territory to carry out attacks on Turkey or Iran," Talabani said in an interview with Turkey's Aksam daily. He said Kurdish parties in northern Iraq would soon convene a meeting to issue a joint appeal to the PKK to abandon its armed struggle. Talabani said relations with Turkey were of "strategic" importance, adding that all Iraqi groups were "irked by the PKK attacks against Turkey" and shared "an absolute understanding" on improving ties with Ankara. Hundreds of militants from the PKK and its sister group in Iran, PJAK, are holed up the mountains of northern Iraq, which they use as a launching pad for cross-border attacks. Ankara has often accused the Iraqi Kurds, who run an autonomous administration in northern Iraq, of tolerating and even aiding the rebels. But in a policy shift earlier this year, it said it would seek to resolve the issue through diplomacy and intensified contacts with the Iraqi Kurds, whom it had long snubbed. Gul indicated Tuesday he would soon visit Iraq after postponing his visit to the Middle East earlier this month because of an ear ailment that prevents him from flying. Maliki was scheduled to travel on to Iran after wrapping up his visit Thursday (today) morning.