President George W Bush has pledged fresh help to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in fighting Kurdish rebels, declaring them "an enemy of Turkey, a free Iraq and the United States."
In a White House session, Bush offered intelligence sharing to help combat the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK Bush also said top military figures from the United States and Turkey would be in more regular contact in an effort to track the movement of the guerrilla fighters.
"I made it very clear to the prime minister that we want to work in a close way to deal with this problem," Bush told reporters yesterday.
With Turkish troops massed on the border of his country, Erdogan is weighing a major cross-border attack against PKK rebels in northern Iraq. The guerrillas have killed more than 40 Turks in the past month in cross-border raids, and pressure is growing on Erdogan to hit back.
After his meeting with Bush, Erdogan said in a speech at the National Press Club that he will leave Washington optimistic about Bush's assurances.
"I don't belief you expect me to tell you everything we discussed," he said of the meeting with Bush. "But I am happy."
The White House worries that a Turkish incursion into Iraq could bring instability to what has been the calmest part of Iraq and could set a precedent for other countries, such as Iran, that have conflicts with Kurdish rebels.
Yet, when asked about the possibility of Turkey attacking Iraq, Bush dismissed the question as hypothetical.