US urges restraint, Turkey conducts raids on PKK

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

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said cross-border action by Turkey was not helpful, but a senior US defense official said Washington was also increasingly frustrated that Iraqi and Kurdish officials had not acted against the 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.

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.

''We don't see that any effort across that border by the Turks is going to help with the situation,'' Rice, who spoke to Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday, told the US House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee.

''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.

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.

A senior US defense official suggested Washington wanted the Iraqi government and Kurdish authorities in northern Iraq to take actions such as cutting supply lines to the PKK.

Such actions would not only crack down on PKK activity, they would also reassure Turkish politicians and calm Turkish public opinion, the official suggested.

''There are logistics lines, there are things that can be done to curtail the movement of the PKK,'' said the official, briefing reporters on the condition that he was not named.

The official refused to speculate on the possibility of any US military action but said: ''Throughout the senior reaches of the US government, there is increasing sympathy for the Turkish position that something has to be done.'' While Turkey has built up forces on its border, Ankara has held back from any major strike for now, saying it is still hoping for a diplomatic solution to the crisis.

REUTERS AE KN2351

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