October 17, 2007 in Nation/World

In Turkey, Iraqi urges caution

Molly Moore Washington Post
The Spokesman-Review photo

(Full-size photo)

ANKARA, Turkey – Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi, in an emergency visit here Tuesday, urged Turkish officials to resolve their problems with Kurdish separatists on Turkey’s border through diplomacy rather than military action.

“A political solution must be given priority to resolve this critical issue,” Hashimi told reporters before meetings with Turkey’s prime minister, president and foreign minister. “We can understand Turkey’s anger, but what I’m aiming to achieve during my visit is a common understanding.”

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told members of his ruling party Tuesday that he will demand that Iraq take greater responsibility for curbing the activities of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, known as the PKK, which has been operating freely in Iraq since the U.S. ousted Saddam Hussein.

“The central government in Iraq and the (Kurdish) regional government in northern Iraq must put a thick wall between themselves and the terrorist organization,” Erdogan said. “Those who are unable to distance themselves from terrorism cannot avoid being adversely affected by the struggle against terrorism.”

Erdogan reportedly is asking Iraq to close PKK offices in northern Iraq and Baghdad, turn the group’s top leaders over to Turkey and block access to the PKK’s financial accounts in Iraq.

The Turkish parliament is expected today to give Erdogan’s government the authority to launch military operations into northern Iraq to attack PKK rebels and their strongholds.

Erdogan said Tuesday the parliamentary authorization would not prompt immediate military action. He said an operation would be ordered “if there is a need, at the right time, at the right place and in a manner to obtain the best result.”

Both U.S. and Iraqi officials have urged Turkey to refrain from cross-border military operations.

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