ANKARA, Nov 6 (Reuters) Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said that a military operation was still planned against Kurdish guerrillas based in northern Iraq, state news agency Anatolian reported today.
Erdogan held crucial talks with US President George W Bush yesterday to push Washington to crack down on some 3,000 Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) rebels based in northern Iraq from where they carry out attacks into Turkey.
Bush told reporters after their talks that he was committed to countering the militants and offered to share intelligence with Ankara, a NATO ally.
Erdogan said a process was underway that could lead to an operation against the PKK.
''The process of an operation actually started with the parliament's permission,'' he said. ''What we are doing is to prepare legitimate grounds for steps to be taken.'' He did not give further details.
Turkey's parliament approved last month a government request to be able to launch major military cross-border operations into northern Iraq against the PKK.
''Nobody is telling us not to do an operation,'' Erdogan said.
During a speech at the National Press Club on Monday Erdogan said Turkey would not launch a war but an operation, suggesting a limited military offensive against PKK guerrillas.
Washington has urged Turkey not to send in thousands of troops, fearing it could destabilise northern Iraq and cause a bigger regional crisis.
In response to what it sees as foot-dragging by Iraq and a lack of pressure from the United States, Turkey has mustered 100,000 troops on the border with Iraq and threatened to go after the PKK if nothing is done to rein them in.
REUTERS SS RN1659