Thursday, October 25, 2007

Turkey, not US, to decide on N.Iraq moves: Erdogan

BUCHAREST (Reuters) - Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday Ankara would not be influenced by U.S. concerns when deciding whether to launch an incursion into northern Iraq to crush Kurdish guerrillas hiding there.

Replying to reporters' questions during a visit to Romania, Erdogan said he wanted the United States to act with Turkey, a NATO ally, against the rebels. He did not say whether this meant a joint military operation.

"(The United States) may not want us to carry out a cross-border operation. But it is we who will decide whether to do one or not," Erdogan said.

"As a strategic ally of Turkey, the United States has to act together with Turkey. We acted together with them in Afghanistan. We must take and we will take steps against terrorism both on a national and an international level."

Turkish nationalist opposition parties have accused Erdogan and his government of being too soft on terrorism and of being swayed by U.S. pressure not to send troops into Iraq.

Anti-U.S. sentiment has soared in Turkey over the past few years due to Washington's refusal to crack down on the rebels of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), who use northern Iraq as a launchpad for attacks on Turkish targets........

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