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U.S. Urges ‘Swift Conclusion’ to Turkish Operations in Iraq

By John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 22, 2008 – The United States has urged Turkey to bring to a “swift conclusion” any ongoing military operations in Iraq, a Pentagon spokesman said today.

Bryan Whitman told reporters the United States also urged Turkey “to limit their operations to precise targeting of the PKK.” Whitman said the U.S. maintains its position that the PKK, a militant Kurdish nationalist group that operates in northern Iraq and Turkey, is a terrorist organization and an enemy of Turkey.

Whitman declined to comment on whether the United States provided intelligence ahead of a Turkish incursion into northern Iraq reported today, but spoke generally of the strategic U.S.-Turkey relationship.

“Turkey is a NATO ally. We have a long-standing, intelligence-sharing relationship with Turkey,” he said. “It was intensified recently with respect to the PKK terrorist group.”

Whitman said the U.S. respects Turkey’s need to protect its population and urges that Turkish officials work directly with Iraqis in dealing with the PKK, which he called “a common enemy.” Further, he said, the United States encourages “a long-term agreement that will enhance the stability and security of that border region.”

“We believe the long-term solution is one of diplomacy, and not a military solution,” he added.

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