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Iraqi president says large-scale Turkish incursion impossible

RIA Novosti

20/10/2007 17:22 ANKARA, October 20 (RIA Novosti) - Iraqi President Jalal Talabani said he believed there was no chance of a large-scale Turkish military strike against Kurdish militants in northern Iraq.

Turkey's parliament sanctioned on Wednesday military cross-border operations against around 3,500 militants from the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK), believed to be based in Iraq, following a government request earlier this week.

The Iraqi leader said in an interview published on Saturday with international Arabic newspaper Al Sharq Al Awsat that Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan "is a wise person, and understands that a military incursion will not solve the problem, and will have severe consequences."

"I rule out the possibility of a large-scale incursion by Turkey, an idea that everyone opposes, including the United States, the European Union, and NATO," he said.

Erdogan put forward two conditions on Friday that could prevent Ankara from launching a military strike against Kurdish militants in northern Iraq.

"What will satisfy us is the closure of all PKK camps, including their training facilities, and the handover of the terrorist leaders to us," Erdogan told reporters, commenting on the calls from Baghdad to refrain from any military action.

Turkey's National Security Council will discuss on October 24 an "action plan" following parliament's decision, which authorizes a military operation for one year but sets out no specific timetable.

The Turkish military has prepared several scenarios for a cross-border operation in northern Iraq to counter Kurdish rebels. The country has been amassing troops in provinces bordering on Iraq, and shelling suspected rebel positions along the border.

The PKK has been fighting for autonomy status in southeast Turkey for nearly 25 years, and recently intensified attacks along the Iraqi border. The conflict has claimed about 40,000 lives

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