Bush vows to help Turkey tackle PKK

US president says Kurdish fighters are the enemy of the US, Iraq and Turkey.

    Hundreds of ethnic Kurds gathered outside the
    White House as Bush and Erdogan met [AFP]

    "We talked about the need for our militaries to stay in constant contact."

    Bush also said that Erdogan had strongly urged the US to work with Iraqi leaders to cut off funding to the Kurdish fighters.

    Erdogan 'happy'

    Erdogan welcomed Bush's commitment to helping Turkey but said his country had no plans to withdraw the 100,000 troops massed on the border with Iraq.

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    "We are not after war. We have a mandate from the Turkish parliament to conduct an operation," he said at Washington's National Press Club.

    Saying he was "happy" with the talk he had with Bush, he added: "As I leave your country, I see that we agree to a great extent.


    "I suppose you don't expect me to tell you everything we've spoken about, but I'm happy."

    Al Jazeera's Hoda Abdel Hamid, reporting from Istanbul, said it would have been impossible for the US to agree to Erdogan's demands that all PKK bases be shut down and the group's leaders handed over to Ankara.

    "The US has very limited resources at this stage in Iraq, and it certainly doesn't have the resources to pull out from the other troubled areas and put them in the northern mountains," she said.

    Ankara has come under increased public pressure to act against the PKK after about 40 Turks, mostly troops, were killed in a series of attacks.

    The White House has expressed concern that a cross-border incursion by the Turkish military could destabilise to what has been the calmest part of Iraq.

    Kurdish protests

    As the two leaders met, hundreds of ethnic Kurds gathered outside the White House chanting "stop the Turkish invasion".

    Earlier on Monday, Nechirvan Barzani, the Iraqi Kurdish regional prime minister, proposed four-party talks to end the PKK incursions and prevent Turkish military action.

    Participants would include his government as well as Ankara, Baghdad and Washington.
    "This is a trans-national issue, complicated by ethnic ties, and no party can find a solution on its own," Barzani wrote in the Washington Post newspaper
    But Murat Karayilan, a PKK leader, has called on the Iraqi Kurdish leadership to stand by its ethnic kin.
    "No action [against the PKK] can be successful ... as long as we, the Kurds, preserve our unity," he told the Firat news agency.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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