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Turkish Parliament Approves Military Move Against Rebel Kurds in Iraq

VOA News
17 October 2007

Turkey's parliament has authorized cross-border military operations against Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq.

Before Wednesday's vote, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said passage of the motion does not mean an attack is imminent. But he said Turkey will act at the right time and under the right conditions.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki telephoned his Turkish counterpart before the vote to repeat his commitment to stopping Kurdish rebels from using Iraq to attack in Turkey.

At a White House news conference, President Bush said it is not in Turkey's interests to send more troops into northern Iraq.

Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi, who had just finished talks in Ankara with Turkish leaders, said Iraq must be given a chance to stop the rebels before Turkey takes action.

Turkey blames Iraq-based rebels of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) for attacks that have killed about 30 soldiers and civilians in the past two weeks.

Iraq's President Jalal Talabani, who is visiting Paris, also urged restraint from Turkey and called on the PKK rebels to lay down their arms.

Meanwhile, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who is visiting Ankara, said Turkey has a legitimate right to stage a cross-border offensive against Kurdish rebels.

In Brussels, a NATO spokesman said that Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer telephoned Turkey's president before the parliamentary vote and urged restraint. He stressed that NATO supports Turkey's view that the PKK is a terrorist organization.

The United States fears a Turkish incursion would destabilize the relatively peaceful Kurdish region of northern Iraq.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.



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