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Turkish FM: Turkey, U.S. should closely cooperate in fight against PKK
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10:34, November 03, 2007

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Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan said on Friday that the visit of U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to Turkey should be considered as a start of closer cooperation between Turkey and the United States against the banned Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK) rebels.

Babacan made the remarks at a joint press conference with Rice following the her talks with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Babacan in the Turkish capital of Ankara.

He said that "What we expect from all our friends and the international community is cooperation and solidarity on fight against terrorism."

"This cooperation and solidarity may have different forms or instruments. What we need is to use these instruments inappropriate time and in a strategic approach," Babacan added.

Babacan also stressed that Turkey wants to see action instead of words over the issue of PKK.

"We have great expectations from the United States. We are at the point where words have been exhausted and where there is need for action," Babacan said.

He told the reporters that Friday's talks will resume in Washington on next Monday at a meeting between Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan and the U.S. President George W. Bush.

The upcoming Erdogan-Bush meeting is widely believed to be vital in determining whether Turkey will launch military incursion into northern Iraq or not.

For her part, Rice said that PKK terrorism is a threat to U.S. interests as well, adding that the U.S. was looking at enhancing its current intelligence and information sharing with Turkey and that she had begun talking with Turkish leaders about effective measures.

"The United States is committed to redoubling its efforts, because we need a comprehensive approach to this problem," she said, adding that "No one should doubt the commitment of the United States. We have a common enemy and we need a common approach."

Rice's visit came amid increasing anti-U.S. sentiment in Turkey and public anger after a resolution passed by a U.S. congressional committee last month which labelled the killings of Armenians between 1915 to 1917 a genocide.

Following Ankara, Rice will go westwards to Turkey's largest city Istanbul, which will host a two-day foreign ministers' meeting on Iraq.

Turkey has threatened a military incursion into northern Iraq, while the U.S. has been pressing Turkey to refrain from such a campaign, which Washington fears could derail one of the few stable areas in Iraq and leave the U.S. in an awkward position.

Turkey has now massed up to 100,000 troops along the mountainous border with Iraq in preparations for a cross-border operation to crush about 3,000-strong PKK rebels, which was approved by the parliament earlier this month.

The PKK, listed by the U.S. and Turkey as a terrorist group, took up arms against Turkey in 1984 with the aim of creating an ethnic homeland in the southeast. More than 30,000 people have been killed in the more than two-decade conflict.


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