Gates tells Turks to end operation in N. Iraq

US Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Wednesday he will tell Turkish leaders they should quickly end a military operation in Iraq and deal with Kurdish disaffection in a non-military fashion.

Gates tells Turks to end operation in N. Iraq
"I measure quick in terms of days, or a week or two, something like that. Not months," he told reporters in New Delhi.

Gates is scheduled to visit Ankara later Wednesday and Thursday amid growing tension between Iraq and Turkey over a five day old Turkish operation against PKK in northern Iraq.

The Baghdad government issued a statement declaring its "rejection and condemnation of the Turkish military incursion."

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday defended the military offensive against PKK as a "rightful struggle" in self defence.

While Washington has expressed understanding for the Turkish position, sharing near real-time targeting intelligence with it on the PKK, it also appears to be growing impatient.

Asked whether he will personally make the point to Turkish leaders in Ankara that they should wrap up the operation quickly, Gates said, "I will make that point but I must say it has been manifest by any number of senior officials pretty straightforwardly to the Turks.

"I also will repeat the point that I made to (Turkish) President Abdullah Gul when he visited Washington, which is that military activity alone will not solve this terrorist problem for Turkey.

"There certainly is a place for security operations, but these also need to be accompanied by economic and political initiatives, and to deal with some of the issues that provide a favorable local environment where the PKK can operate," he said.

"They need to deal with some of the issues and complaints that some of the Kurds have and move this in a non-military direction in order to get a long-term solution," he said.

He said the United States would consider helping Ankara with such an approach if asked.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 27 Şubat 2008, 16:34