Turkey showing "remarkable restraint" - NATO chief

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NOORDWIJK, Netherlands, Oct 24 (Reuters) NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer hailed Turkey today for showing ''remarkable restraint'' so far in its efforts to tackle Kurdish rebels in Iraq.

De Hoop Scheffer was speaking after security services said that Turkish warplanes and troops attacked Kurdish rebels inside Iraq this week. Ankara insists it wants to hold back from any major incursion for now to give diplomacy a chance.

''If I look at the Turkish goverment as it has acted up till now I think the Turkish government is showing restraint -- remarkable restraint under present circumstances,'' de Hoop Scheffer told reporters at a meeting of NATO defence ministers in the Dutch coastal resort of Noordwijk.

He said Turkish Defence Minister Vecdi Gonul had briefed his NATO counterparts on the situation during the talks and that ''the allies expressed full solidarity for Turkey''.

Turkey moved more troops to the mountainous border today, keeping up pressure on Baghdad to honour its promises to crack down on an estimated 3,000 rebels of Turkey's outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), who use northern Iraq as a base.

A military official said sorties earlier this week had killed 34 PKK rebels and all the Turkish troops involved in the operations were now back in Turkey.

Reuters AE DB2245

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