Turk govt hopes won't need to send troops to N.Iraq

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ANKARA, Oct 15 (Reuters) Turkey's government agreed today, as expected, to seek parliamentary permission to send troops into northern Iraq to crush Kurdish rebels there, but said it still hoped this would not be necessary.

''Our wish is that we will not have to use this motion... but the most painful reality of our country, our region, is the reality of terror,'' government spokesman Cemil Cicek told a news conference after a cabinet meeting.

The United States has urged Turkey, its NATO ally, to refrain from sending troops into mainly Kurdish northern Iraq, fearing this could destabilise the only relatively peaceful area of Iraq and potentially the wider region.

But Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's government is under heavy public pressure to take tough action after a series of deadly attacks on Turkish troops by rebels of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), who use northern Iraq as a base.

Cicek said the motion, expected to be approved by parliament on Wednesday, would provide a legal basis for military action -- possibly several incursions -- over the period of one year.

He stressed that Turkey's sole target, if its troops entered northern Iraq, would be the PKK militants, about 3,000 of whom are believed to be hiding in the mountainous region.

Cicek repeated criticism of Iraq's failure, despite Turkish pressure, to take action against the PKK on its territory. He added that an Iraqi deputy state minister will hold talks in Ankara with Turkish officials tomorrow.

REUTERS RSA PM2044

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