Turkey gives US no timeframe on Iraq operation: Gates

Turkey has given no clear timeframe for ending its military operations against PKK militants in northern Iraq, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said on Thursday after talks with Turkish officials.

Turkey gives US no timeframe on Iraq operation: Gates
Gates also reiterated Washington's call for the operation, now in its seventh day, to be as short and carefully targeted as possible.

"A specific timetable did not come up in my meeting with the defence minister, but I have three more meetings (today in Ankara)," Gates told reporters.

"It should be clear that military action alone will not end this terrorist threat," he added, saying Ankara must also take political and economic steps to isolate the PKK militants and help support Turkey's large ethnic Kurdish minority.

Turkey's Defence Minister Vecdi Gonul repeated Ankara's assurances that Turkish troops would withdraw from Iraq once they had accomplished their mission against the militants of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

"Turkish soldiers entered Iraqi territory only to fight PKK targets... We have no intention against civilians, no intention to occupy any areas," Gonul said, speaking in English.

Asked when the troops would leave, he said: "(When) the mission is completed. We have no intention to stay."

The PKK has been using mountainous northern Iraq as a base from which to stage attacks on civilian and military targets inside Turkish territory.


Güncelleme Tarihi: 28 Şubat 2008, 14:33