Thursday, February 28, 2008

U.S. urges Turkey to withdraw troops from N. Iraq

The United States called on Thursday for NATO ally Turkey to end its major ground offensive against Kurdish PKK rebels in northern Iraq as soon as possible, but Ankara said it would stay until the job was done.Defense Secretary Robert Gates told reporters in Ankara that he had been given no timetable for a Turkish withdrawal."The key is for us to make clear what our interests are, our concerns about the situation in Iraq," he said after meeting with Turkey’s defense minister.Washington fears that a prolonged Turkish operation will undermine stability in the region, particularly Iraq."It should be clear that military action alone will not end this terrorist threat," Gates added, saying Ankara must also take political and economic steps to isolate the PKK guerrillas and help support Turkey’s large ethnic Kurdish minority, Reuters reports. For his part, Turkish Prime Minister’s chief foreign affairs adviser Ahmed Davutoglu said that decision on withdrawal terms has not been taken yet.Some 100 thousand Turkish troops crossed the Iraqi border on February 22 night. 173 Kurdish rebels and 17 Turkish soldiers are reported to be killed.
It would be interesting to know what Gates thinks about the "great ally" now?!

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