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Bush, Turks to discuss Kurdish rebels

world Updated: Oct 31, 2007 12:35 IST
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US President George W Bush and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan will discuss Turkey's fight against Kurdish rebels during talks in Washington next week, the White House said.

Bush will use Erdogan's White House visit on Monday to urge him to refrain from any large-scale military action in northern Iraq over concerns it could destabilise one of the country's calmer regions.

Erdogan ordered troops into Iraq to find eight soldiers abducted by PKK Kurdish rebels on October 21. Another 12 soldiers were killed in the raid, the latest in a series of attacks by the PKK in Turkey from bases in Iraq.

The US has urged Ankara to work closely with US and Iraqi authorities to address the threat by PKK fighters based in Iraq, and has stepped up diplomacy with Turkey to avoid a larger intervention.

"The president will talk to Erdogan about exercising restraint, limiting the actions against the PKK," White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said on Tuesday.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has been in regular contact with the Turks and will meet Erdogan and President Abdullah Gul in Ankara on Friday on her way to the Middle East.

Perino confirmed reports that Bush would meet Erdogan at the White House.

"We have a joint desire, a joint need to make sure that the PKK is eradicated, that they are stopped," she said.

Bush and Erdogan will also discuss efforts to promote stability in Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon and the broader Middle East, Perino told reporters, and reaffirm US support for Turkey's entry into the European Union.

Tension has risen between the US and Turkey, two close NATO allies, also because of a resolution passed by a House of Representatives committee condemning the deaths of 1.5 million Armenians from 1915-1923 as genocide.

Angered by the resolution, Turkey recalled its ambassador to Washington. But it appears support for a full House vote on the measure has dwindled following intense White House opposition to it.