Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Gates to Turks: End Iraq incursion soon

NEW DELHI - Defense Secretary Robert Gates headed for Ankara late Wednesday with a message for Turkish leaders: Get your troops out of northern Iraq in the next few days.

"It's very important that the Turks make this operation as short as possible and then leave," Gates said before departing India. "They have to be mindful of Iraqi sovereignty. I measure quick in terms of days, a week or two, something like that, not months."

Gates said he also will ask Turkish leaders in a series of meetings Thursday to address some of the complaints of the Kurds, and move from combat to economic and political initiatives to solve differences with them.

It was the first time that Gates put any time limit on the Turkish incursion launched into Iraq last Thursday against separatist rebels from the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK. The rebels are fighting for autonomy in the largely Kurdish region of southeastern Turkey, and have carried out attacks from northern Iraq.

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