Turkish forces will stay in N Iraq 'as long as necessary'

Turkish National Defense Minister Vecdi Gonul said Thursday Turkish troops would remain in north of Iraq as long as necessary and they had no intention of staying in Iraq after the mission was accomplished.

Turkish forces will stay in N Iraq 'as long as necessary'
U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates who arrived in Turkish capital of Ankara on Wednesday met his Turkish counterpart Vecdi Gonul. They held a joint press conference after their meeting.

Gonul said they discussed issues of cooperation in areas of military, defense industry and technology, NATO-EU relations and the fight against terrorism.

Gonul said Turkish army targeted only PKK camps and facilities, not civilian buildings and villages. He said they had no intention to disturb civil authorities, interfere with domestic politics or invade any territories.

"This is an operation to restore rule of law and order," noted Gonul.

Gonul regarded Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's meeting with U.S. President George W. Bush at the White House on November 5th as a turning point in the two countries' fight against terrorism and recalled that the intelligence sharing started at that date.

Gonul said the U.S. supported Turkey's combat against the terrorist organization PKK by providing intelligence, opening the Iraqi airspace to Turkey and using their influence on Iraqi territory to the favor of Turkey. He said thanks to the accurate intelligence U.S. provided, Turkey made successful air strikes on precise targets.

Gonul recalled the ground operation was launched on February 21st against PKK's terrorist camps in the north of Iraq and said this operation was carried out not only for the security and safety of Turkish people but also of Iraqi people.

Gonul said the support U.S. extended to Turkey --including support in the combat against PKK-- in the international arena was very important.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 28 Şubat 2008, 15:07