October 24, 2007 / 4:04 PM / 12 years ago

U.S. urges restraint, Turkey conducts raids on PKK

(Adds Rice comments on Turkey, paragraphs 4-6)

WASHINGTON, Oct 24 (Reuters) - The White House on Wednesday urged restraint as Turkey conducted raids into northern Iraq against Kurdish rebels.

"We are concerned about the continuing skirmishes that are happening up there and the terrorist attacks that are being lodged by the PKK against the Turks," White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said.

"We continue to urge both sides to exercise restraint, the Iraqis and the Turks, in terms of escalating tension between the two countries because they agree that the common problem and the common enemy is the PKK, the terrorist organization," she said.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee that such cross-border attacks were not helpful and she had personally appealed for restraint.

"We don’t see that any effort across that border by the Turks is going to help with the situation," said Rice, who spoke to Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday.

"We have said to the Turks that a major incursion into Iraq is only going to cause further instability. What we have encouraged is joint work (between Turkey and Iraq)," she said, adding that Iraq had an obligation to act against the PKK.

Turkish warplanes and troops attacked Kurdish rebels inside Iraq this week, and Turkey has moved troops to the mountainous border to keep up pressure on Baghdad to honor promises to crack down on rebels using the region as a base for the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party, the full name of the PKK.

While Turkish forces were being built up on the border, Ankara was holding back from any major strike for now saying it was still hoping for a diplomatic solution to the crisis.

The United States, concerned that a major incursion into northern Iraq by Turkey could destabilize Iraq’s Kurdish region, is pressing Iraq to take action against the rebels.





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