U.S. Envoy Meets With Turkish Leaders




 
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U.S. Envoy Meets With Turkish Leaders
 
September 13th, 2006  
Team Infidel
 
 

Topic: U.S. Envoy Meets With Turkish Leaders


U.S. Envoy Meets With Turkish Leaders
Media: The Associated Press
Byline: SELCAN HACAOGLU
Date: 13 September 2006


ANKARA, Turkey - A special U.S. envoy assured skeptical Turks on Wednesday
that the United States was determined to help counter Iraq-based Kurdish
guerrillas waging an escalating battle for an autonomous homeland.

Retired Air Force Gen. Joseph Ralston met with Turkish leaders a day after
three bombings _ including one that killed 10 people in the southeastern
city of Diyarbakir _ that authorities have blamed on the Kurdish guerillas.

Turkey has repeatedly complained about a lack of U.S. cooperation in the
struggle against the guerrillas, known as the PKK. It has made veiled
threats to take unilateral military action against the rebels in Iraq if
necessary.

Ralston expressed sympathy for the victims of Tuesday's attacks and said
Washington understood the need for urgent action to stem the conflict, which
has heightened in recent months.

"We need (measures) urgently and they need to be visible so that not only
the Turkish public, but the Iraqi public and the American public can see
that we are serious about eliminating the threat of terrorism," Ralston told
a news conference with Turkish Foreign Ministry officials.

The appointment of the former NATO Supreme Allied Commander appears intended
to underscore Washington's commitment to helping Turkey and Iraq confront
the PKK, which the U.S. lists as a terrorist organization.

Turkish officials were expected to ask Ralston for some U.S. military action
such as capturing senior rebel commanders _ possibly with help from Iraqi
forces. But the thinly stretched U.S. military in Iraq is unlikely to pursue
experienced PKK fighters hiding in the remote mountains along the border
shared by Iraq, Iran and Turkey.

The bulk of the PKK's estimated 5,000 guerrillas are thought to be in
Turkey, but many operate in Iraq and Iran. Tthe guerrillas have benefited
from the years of a power vacuum in northern Iraq to stage cross-border
offensives in Turkey's Kurdish-dominated southeast.

Retired Turkish Gen. Edip Baser, who was appointed to work with Ralston,
urged Turks to be patient as the two countries negotiated.

"We hope that positive results will be achieved in a short time," he said.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and other U.S. officials have repeatedly
warned Turkey against entering northern Iraq, one of the few stable areas in
that country, fearing that an incursion would alienate Iraqi Kurds, the most
pro-American group in the region.

The United States and the European Union have called on Turkey to offer the
rebels economic and political incentives to help end the 22-year-old
conflict, which has killed 37,000 people. Turkey insists it will not
negotiate with terrorists, vowing to fight until all rebels are killed or
surrender.

Although the Turkish government has offered greater rights to Kurds, such as
limited broadcasting in the once-banned Kurdish language, most Kurds dismiss
the measures as inadequate.

Ralston's immediate challenge is bridging the growing animosity between
Turks and Iraqi Kurds, who have repeatedly asserted dreams of an independent
state that Turkey fears will encourage separatists in Turkey.

Turkey has been eyeing recent events in northern Iraq with concern,
particularly an order by Iraqi Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani to replace
Iraq's national flag with the Kurdish tricolor on all government buildings
in his autonomous Kurdish region.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is facing increasing
domestic criticism over the surge of rebel violence, has called on Baghdad
to block any moves toward separatism in Iraq, calling recent developments
"extremely dangerous."

More than a dozen Turkish soldiers and police officers have been killed in
recent weeks. Tuesday's bombing in Diyarbakir was the deadliest since a 2003
al-Qaida suicide attack that killed 58 people in Istanbul.

Since the beginning of the year, rebel attacks have killed 91 soldiers and
left 472 civilians dead or injured, a dramatic rise over previous years, the
Turkish Foreign Ministry said.
 


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