Iraq meeting overshadowed by PKK

Tensions between Turkey and Baghdad loom over talks aimed at stabilising Iraq.

    The government in Iraq has asked Iran to help resolve the crisis [AFP]

    Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary general, and Condoleezza Rice, the US secretary of state, will attend the conference in Istanbul on Friday.
     
    Al Jazeera's Hoda Abdel Hamid, reporting from Istanbul, says the Turkish public's expectations of results are low.
     
    She said: "Condoleezza Rice is entering unfriendly territory, as public opinion is strongly anti-American these days, as well demands of swift action against the PKK."


    Troops amassed


    Both Baghdad and Washington strongly oppose any unilateral Turkish action in northern Iraq on the grounds that it would destabilise the only relatively calm region of the war-torn country.


    Turkey has reportedly massed up to 100,000 troops on the border with

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    Iraq and has threatened a military incursion to strike at PKK bases unless Baghdad and Washington promise to crack down on the fighters.

    The White House has offered Ankara "actionable intelligence" on the PKK.

    "We have no time to lose. All instruments – diplomatic, political, socio-cultural and military - are on the table," Babacan said.

    He also said that Turkey may restrict flights to northern Iraq.

    The meeting is a follow-up to a conference held in the Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh in Egypt, in May where a pledge was made to stop foreign fighters from joining Iraqi militias.

    Diplomatic efforts

    Meanwhile, Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish prime minister, is to meet with  George Bush, the US president, in Washington on Monday.

    Turkish troops have been engaged in major operations targeting the PKK since October 21 when a group of fighters, who Ankara says came from northern Iraq, ambushed a military unit, killing 12 soldiers and capturing eight.
      
    The army says it has since killed 80 fighters on Turkish territory.
      
    A top PKK commander on Thursday called on Ankara to present a peace plan that could end the group's rebellion, which has claimed more than 37,000 lives.
      
    Turkey refuses to have any contact with or make any concessions to the PKK.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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