US proposes three-way meeting on PKK issue

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WASHINGTON, Oct 23 (Reuters) The United States and Britain have proposed a meeting next month of officials from the United States, Turkey and Iraq to discuss how to stop Kurdish rebel attacks into Turkey.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Britain's visiting foreign secretary, David Miliband, said yesterday they hoped ministers from the three countries could meet during a conference on Iraq, set for Istanbul on November 2-3.

The conference will draw ministers from Iraq's neighbors and major powers to discuss stabilizing Iraq but was also expected to focus on tensions in the north of the country from where Kurdish rebels have launched attacks into Turkey.

''I won't speculate about what we might do, except to say that the United States is determined to work with our allies in Iraq and our allies in Turkey to try and deal with what is a very difficult situation of terrorism from a fairly remote part of northern Iraq,'' Rice said at a news conference.

''I am quite certain that we can sit down and we can work this together if there is enough political will.'' The two top diplomats said in a statement the proposed meeting would look at how to implement a September 28 anti-terrorism deal signed by Iraq and Turkey.

That agreement was aimed against PKK rebels based in northern Iraq but failed to agree on a plan that would have let Turkish troops chase militants across their common border.

The United States and others have urged Turkey not to launch unilateral action in Iraq. Rice and Miliband said cooperation between Istanbul and Baghdad was the most effective way to eliminate the threat by the outlawed Kurdish Workers Party, or PKK.

Miliband said the situation in northern Iraq was of deep concern to Britain and words were not going to be sufficient to convince Turkey's government that the international community was serious in tackling the problem.

Reuters AK VP0638

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