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Turkey must leave Iraq quickly says Bush

Washington, February 29, 2008

US President George W Bush said Turkish troops should withdraw from Northern Iraq "as quickly as possible."

"The Turks need to move, move quickly, achieve their objective and get out," he told a White House news conference.

Thousands of Turkish troops crossed the border last week to root out Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) fighters. The PKK has used remote mountainous northern Iraq as a base in their armed campaign for self-rule in the mainly Kurdish southeast of Turkey.

Bush emphasised the message US Defense Secretary Robert Gates gave in talks this week with Turkey's military General Staff, General Yasar Buyukanit and Turkey's president and Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, in which he played down any differences, saying the United States and Turkey had shared interests.

"The Turks, the Americans, and the Iraqis including the Iraqi Kurds share a common enemy in the PKK," he said.

"It is in nobody's interest that there be safe haven for people who have the willingness to kill innocent people."   

The Bush administration has been sharing intelligence with its chief military ally in the region, mainly to help its aerial bombing campaign to destroy PKK havens. If Ankara does not heed Washington's call to complete the operation quickly, Washington could curtail or cut off that intelligence flow. - Reuters




Tags: bush | Turkey | PKK | Kurd |

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