(Reuters) - The United States promised on Friday to try to help stop Kurdish guerrillas operating in northern Iraq in an attempt to stave off a threatened Turkish military intervention that could destabilise the region.
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called the militants a "common enemy". But she did not spell out what Washington might do to stop them using Iraq as a base for attacks on Turkey, where they seek an independent Kurdish state.
"We all need to redouble our efforts and the United States is committed to redoubling our efforts," Rice told a news conference with Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan in Ankara.
Babacan expressed Turkish frustration at the lack of action so far against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). "This is where the words end and action needs to start," he said.
Rice said the PKK would be discussed at a meeting between herself and ministers from Turkey and Iraq on the sidelines of an Iraq neighbours' conference in Istanbul on Saturday.
Turkey, a NATO member with the alliance's second biggest army, has sent up to 100,000 troops to the Iraqi border, backed by tanks, artillery and aircraft. Baghdad and Washington have urged Ankara to refrain from a major operation in an area that has been spared the worst of the violence in Iraq.
"We know fully well that our neighbour Turkey is not willing to destabilise Iraq. They are willing to support Iraq. Both of us are against the common enemy, the PKK terrorist organisation that threatens Turkey and threatens Iraq as well," Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh told reporters in Istanbul.
Ankara has said it will take cross-border action shortly to root out some 3,000 PKK militants in northern Iraq if U.S. and Iraqi forces fail to follow up on past pledges of action.