US And Turkey Set to Discuss Bilateral Ties and Rebels

ANKARA (AFP)–A ranking US official is expected in Turkey on Thursday for talks on bilateral ties and possibly measures to combat armed Turkish Kurd rebels holed up in the mountains of northern Iraq–a US spokesman’said.

Matt Bryza–deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs–"will be visiting Ankara for two days to discuss general matters…. the PKK (the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party) issue could also be brought up," the spokesman–who requested anonymity–said Tuesday.

Bryza is also expected to meet officials in charge of the economy and "possibly" military officials–he added.

US Joint Chief of Staff General Richard Myers–and General John Abizaid–head of US Central Command–are also expected in Ankara in September–but the exact date of the visit has not been set–the spokesman’said.

Turkey has long pressured the United States to act against thousands of PKK militants who have found refuge in northern Iraq since 1999 and stepped up their attacks on Turkish targets over the past several months.

Last month–the Turkish army’s number two–General Ilker Basbug–said that Washington had ordered the capture of PKK commanders in northern Iraq and warned of a Turkish military incursion into the region if Baghdad fails to curb the rebels.

Last week–the PKK–listed by the US and the European Union as a terrorist group–announced a unilateral one-month cease-fire until September 20 to give Turkey time to take steps to resolve the conflict.

Ankara did not respond to the truce offer.

Some 37,000 people have died since 1984–when the PKK first took up arms for self-rule in Turkey’s mainly Kurdish southeast.

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