Rice Warns Turkey to Keep Out of Iraq

ANKARA (International Herald Tribune)–Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice assured Turkish leaders on Tuesday that the United States would step up efforts to stop the infiltration of Kurdish insurgents from Iraq into Turkey–but she warned the Turkish government not to send troops into Iraq to do the job. Addressing what has become a new irritant in relations with Turkey–Rice acknowledged that the problem of infiltration by Kurdish rebels into Turkey from Kurdish regions in northern Iraq had been allowed to grow.

The Turkish foreign minister–Abdullah Gul–said there had been a surge in such infiltration in recent weeks.

The country’s press has been filled with reports of thousands of Turkish troops massing on the border of Iraq–and there has been speculation that Turkey might intervene in Iraq.

Rice–without speaking directly to that threat–clearly sought to discourage the Turks from doing anything on their own.

"Of course we want anything that we do to contribute to stability in Iraq–not to threaten that stability or to make a difficult situation worse," Rice said–referring to the presence of Turkish troops. "That is why a cooperative approach on this problem–cooperation between Iraq and Turkey and the coalition forces–is very important."

Gul spoke of the Kurdish rebel situation in blunt terms–saying that the Kurdish Workers Party–which is known as the PKK–had turned Iraq into "a training ground" and that "like every country–Turkey will take her own precautions" to deal with the problem.

He said–however–that Turkey had "no claim on anybody’s soil or any neighborly country’s soil."

Rice spoke during her trip through the region–starting in the morning with meetings in Athens–where a few thousand anti-American protesters thronged the streets downtown.

A couple of dozen protesters turned violent–throwing Molotov cocktails and burning storefronts and bus stops.


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