American President George W. Bush, trying to avert a Turkish raid into Iraq, Monday vowed to intensify US military and intelligence cooperation to aid Turkey's fight against Kurdish fighters.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan welcomed Bush's commitments following crisis talks between the two leaders, but said Ankara had no plans to withdraw some 100,000 soldiers massed on the border with Iraq. According to AFP, Bush stressed that Washington stood shoulder to shoulder with its NATO ally Turkey over the deadly cross-border attacks by the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).
"PKK is a terrorist organization. They're an enemy of Turkey. They're an enemy of Iraq. And they're an enemy of the United States," Bush told reporters after the White House meeting. The American leader announced a new three-way military partnership grouping the United States, Turkey and Iraq to improve the sharing of real-time intelligence on the PKK.
Washington was also looking at cutting off money flows to the Kurdish rebels, and their ease of travel, he said.
"We are not after war. We have a mandate from the Turkish parliament to conduct an (anti-PKK) operation," Erdogan said at Washington's National Press Club, describing himself has "happy" as a result of his talks with Bush. The Turkish leader said his country was awaiting concrete action following assurances by Iraq's government that it is clamping down on the PKK.
"And so I will trust this process and we will see what takes place as this process moves along," he said through an interpreter, while declining to say whether Turkey might now review its massed deployment of troops on the border. "We will continue to take those precautions," he said.