Pentagon official visits Ankara on PKK arms claims

A senior Pentagon official had talks in Ankara this week following allegations by former members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) that the US supplied arms to the terrorist group in Iraq, Turkish and US officials said.

Pentagon official visits Ankara on PKK arms claims
A senior Pentagon official had talks in Ankara this week following allegations by former members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) that the US supplied arms to the terrorist group in Iraq, Turkish and US officials said.

General Counsel of the US Department of Defense William J. Haynes, who headed a seven-member team of US officials, held closed-door talks with officials from the General Staff, the Foreign Ministry, the Security Directorate and the National Intelligence Organization (MİT). Haynes is involved in an ongoing investigation into weapons that went missing after they were donated by the US to Iraq.

"Haynes was in Ankara only for one day and he held senior-level talks both with military and government officials. His meetings concerned an ongoing investigation that had been launched a number of months ago about possibly missing weapons. We have been working in cooperation with Turkish officials since then," US Embassy Press Attaché Kathryn Schalow told Today's Zaman on Thursday, noting that the ongoing investigation proceeded into recent reports concerning US-registered weapons ending up in hands of PKK terrorists.

Turkish diplomatic sources said that a US delegation from the Department of Defense held talks on Wednesday in Ankara with "related authorities" within the framework of an investigation that has been launched at the Department of Defense.

The Department of Defense has launched an investigation into US-registered weapons sent to the Iraqi army ending up in the hands the outlawed PKK based in northern Iraq, Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül said on Thursday.

Former members of the PKK escaping from mountain camps in northern Iraq recently gave testimony in which they told security authorities and prosecutors they had seen US trucks delivering arms to PKK camps. Turkish officials suggested there was other evidence indicating the one-time terrorists' charges could be accurate, without elaborating.

Foreign Minister Gül said recently it has been revealed that certain US soldiers were involved in corrupt acts related to the issue of weapons ending up in PKK hands and warned that Turkish-US ties would break apart if it is proven that the US openly supplies arms to the PKK, designated as a terrorist organization not only by Ankara but also by Washington. The finding came out of an internal investigation launched into the PKK arms claims.

Officials view Haynes' visit in a positive light and see his trip as a step on the part of the US to address Turkish concerns. Gül had previously requested a formal explanation from the US over the allegations in a telephone conversation with his US counterpart, Condoleezza Rice. US Ambassador Ross Wilson was also summoned to the Foreign Ministry and shown documents relating to the allegations.

In Haynes' meetings on Wednesday, Turkish officials presented a detailed list of Austrian-made Glock pistols, AK-47 rifles, machine guns, sniper rifles, rocket launchers and hand grenades that have been seized with PKK members.

The US side explained that Washington has provided more than 370,000 weapons, including Glock pistols, launchers, grenades, machine guns and sniper rifles, to Iraq as part of its efforts to support restructuring in Iraq. These weapons, worth some $133 million, were given to Iraq under 19 agreements and that some 142 documents certifying delivery were available.

A congressional report pointing out problems in connection with the fate of weapons provided for Iraq was also debated at Haynes' meetings. The report, prepared by Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) in 2006, says the US Defense Department registered the serial numbers of only about 10,000 of the 370,251 weapons it provided -- less than 3 percent.

Haynes said in his meetings with Turkish officials, who included Deputy Chief of Staff Gen. Ergin Saygun and Police Director-General Oğuz Kağan Köksal, that the weapons that ended up in PKK hands were those supplied to Iraqi security organizations by the United States. He said it was highly probable that the PKK got these weapons from Iraqi security forces.

Today's Zaman

Güncelleme Tarihi: 27 Temmuz 2007, 11:48
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