CAIRO, Oct 18 (Reuters) Turkey's foreign minister said today his country would not hesitate to act against Kurdish rebels waging deadly attacks against its troops and warned them against testing its resolve.
His remarks came a day after Turkey's parliament approved a motion allowing troops to cross into northern Iraq to hunt down Kurdish rebels there. The move prompted Turkey's Western allies and Baghdad to urge it to refrain from military action.
''Turkey is determined to continue the fight against terror. This is absolute, there is no hesitation. We hope there will be no attempt to test Turkey's determination,'' Ali Babacan told reporters in Egypt after talks with President Hosni Mubarak.
He did not mention the rebels by name but he was referring to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). The Turkish government is under heavy public pressure to act against the PKK after a series of deadly attacks on its troops.
Babacan said efforts to curtail Turkey's ''problem'' in Iraq by working with the Americans and the Iraqi government had failed so far, and the problem had increased, and the Turkish assembly had empowered the government to act.
''This approval has limits: to pursue terrorist elements only. If the need arises to use this approval, Turkey's policy toward Iraq is clear... represented in the necessity to preserve the territorial integrity of Iraq and Iraqi sovereignty,'' Babacan said, speaking through an Arabic translator.
Yesterday, Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister Cemil Cicek told parliament any army incursion would target only the estimated 3,000 PKK rebels in northern Iraq.
Babacan added that an expected meeting of Iraq's neighbours in Istanbul would provide an opportunity to discuss developments in Iraq. He gave no date for the conference, which the five permanent U N Security Council members and the Group of Eight nations are expected to attend.
Reuters SKB RN1850