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Last Updated: Friday, 16 January 2004, 21:20 GMT
Turkey warns over 'ethnic Iraq'
Deputy chief of staff Ilker Basbug
Basbug called for US action against Turkish Kurd rebels in northern Iraq
Turkey's military have warned Iraq's administrators not to build an ethnic-based federation there.

Deputy chief of staff Ilker Basbug said an ethnically rather than geographically divided Iraq would lead to "bloodshed".

"If a federation is established in Iraq, particularly one based on ethnic roots, the future of Iraq will be very difficult and very bloody," he said.

Turkey wants to see a federal system based on Iraq's existing 18 provinces.

General Basbug also asked Washington to follow up on a previously-made pledge to take action against about 5,000 members of Kurdish militant group Kadek (formerly the Kurdistan Workers' Party) Turkey says are sheltering in the northern Iraqi mountains.

'No outside force'

Northern Iraq contains oil-rich areas like Mosul and Kirkuk, which Iraqi Kurds want to include in their self-rule region.

In an apparent reference to Kurdish claims to the oil, General Basbug said one of Turkey's "sensitivities" was the equal sharing of natural resources.

Barham Saleh, an Iraqi Kurdish leader, said after meeting Turkish officials in Ankara that while Kirkuk was "historically and geographically part of Kurdistan", its future would ultimately be decided by those who lived there.

"It will not be decided by any outside force," he said.

Both cities have large Arab and Turkmen communities, as well as Kurds.

Ankara is concerned Iraqi Kurds who want a federation in Iraq will eventually try to create an independent state.

Kurds believe Kurdistan includes areas of south-east Turkey, eastern Syria. northern Iraq and western Iran.

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