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Last Updated: Tuesday, 30 January 2007, 10:01 GMT
Turkey-US move to combat rebels
By Sarah Rainsford
BBC News, Istanbul

Gen Joseph W. Ralston
Gen Ralston was previously Nato's top commander in Europe
A US envoy who will co-ordinate the fight against the PKK Kurdish rebels is holding talks in Turkey.

There is growing talk in Turkey of the need for cross-border raids into northern Iraq, where the Kurdish separatist group is based.

Turkey has a good deal to discuss with General Joseph Ralston.

From the Turkish prime minister down, politicians have been advocating sending troops across the border unless the US acts urgently against the PKK.

The retired general was appointed last year to co-ordinate the fight against the PKK, but there is increasing frustration here that several thousand PKK fighters are still based in Iraq and able to launch attacks into Turkey.

PKK rebels on exercises in mountains of northern Iraq
The PKK has been fighting for autonomy in Turkey since 1984
And then there is Kirkuk, where Ankara fears the Iraqi Kurds are vying for control and full independence.

Turkey worries that it would only encourage the PKK in its own separatist ambitions.

So everyone here is talking tough these days, openly discussing the military options, even convening a secret session of parliament.

Most analysts agree that much of the talk is meant for domestic consumption.

Elections are coming and the fight is on for the nationalist vote.

But the substance of Turkey's concerns is real enough, so many believe Turkey's intention is to pile the pressure on Washington.

The US argues it lacks the resources in Iraq to deal with the PKK.

Despite the risks, some believe Turkey could decide to act across the border on its own.


SEE ALSO
Country profile: Turkey
18 Jan 07 |  Country profiles
Profile: Abdullah Ocalan
13 May 05 |  Europe

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