Turk security body urges economic steps over rebels

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ANKARA, Oct 24 (Reuters) Turkey's powerful National Security Council (MGK) said today it had recommended that the government take economic action against groups helping separatist Kurdish rebels based in northern Iraq.

The call from the MGK, comprising political leaders and army top brass, added to the growing Turkish pressure on northern Iraq's autonomous Kurdish administration to act against the rebels in order to stave off a major Turkish military incursion.

''The MGK has made a recommendation to the cabinet concerning economic measures that should be taken ... against groups which directly or indirectly support the separatist terrorist organisation in the region,'' an MGK statement said.

It did not say what measures should be taken or which groups would be targeted, but Ankara has strongly criticised the Iraqi Kurdish administration for failing to crack down on the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which is outlawed in Turkey.

Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan mooted the possibility of economic sanctions against northern Iraq during his visit to London on Tuesday.

His ruling AK Party has said these could include cutting off electricity supplies to northern Iraq and halting or slowing down road traffic at the Habur border gate.

Northern Iraq relies heavily on Turkey for its power, water and food supplies.

Foreign Trade Minister Kursad Tuzmen said earlier today that Ankara was capable of excluding the north and maintaining trade relations with the rest of Iraq if the crisis over the PKK escalated.

The MGK statement followed an unusually long six-hour meeting under the chairmanship of President Abdullah Gul.

Erdogan and General Yasar Buyukanit, head of the powerful military General Staff, were among those attending the talks.

Reuters AE VP0012

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