Turkey Told Not to Pursue PKK in Iraq

AMMAN (Reuters)–Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari warned Turkey against military incursions to pursue Kurdistan Workers Party rebels using northern Iraq as a base–saying this could destabilize Iraq.

Zebari said on Sunday that US forces in Iraq were poised to capture the rebels–who have waged a violent campaign against Turkey to win Kurdish self-determination for decades. "They are in regions outside the control of the central and Kurdish government. If they move the American forces could arrest them. We have an obligation to Turkey–and to control all non-Iraqi armed groups and prevent them from activities against neighboring countries," he said.

"We refuse any regional military interference in Iraqi affairs–whether Turkish–Iranian or Arab–because it destroys confidence and shifts the focus when our priority is finishing the political process–improving the security situation and providing basic services," Zebari added.

General Ilker Basbug of the Turkish General Staff said last week the United States had given orders for the capture of PKK rebels in Iraq–adding that Turkey had a right to enter Iraqi territory to attack them if no action was taken.

Turkey on Monday said it had no plan to send troops into northern Iraq to hunt the Kurdish rebels but repeated its call to US forces to crush the guerrillas.

"If there is a threat coming from another country–this threat must be banished," Government spokesman Cemil Cicek said.

Cicek said the United States–Turkey’s NATO ally–had blacklisted the PKK as a "terrorist organization."

"If it’s a terrorist organization–if it’s disturbing Turkey–we expect steps to be taken and cooperation to be established. This is what has to be done between friendly and allied countries," he said.

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