( AFP ) - Turkey on Tuesday warned Iraq that its patience has run out over the handling of Kurdish rebels based in northern Iraq, ahead of a parliamentary vote that could authorize cross-border strikes.
Iraq called for emergency talks with Turkey on the military action threat after Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki called a special cabinet meeting in Baghdad. An Iraqi vice president arrived in Ankara for talks with Turkish leaders.
Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said: "The central government in Iraq and the regional government in northern Iraq must put a thick wall between themselves and the terrorist organization."
"Those who are unable to distance themselves from terrorism cannot avoid being adversely affected by the struggle against terrorism," Erdogan told the parliamentary group of his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
The Turkish government is expected secure parliamentary approval for cross-border operations against the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) rebels in Wednesday's vote.
The authorization would be valid for one year and allow the government to decide the timing, scope and frequency of any cross-border operations.
Iraq and the United States have both urged Turkey not to follow through with its threat, but Turkey argues that its hand has been forced by a lack of US and Iraqi cooperation in cracking down on the PKK.
Iraq's Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said in a statement that he "will not accept military solutions as a way of dealing (with issues) between the two countries even though we realise and understand the worries of our Turkish friends."
"The Iraqi government calls on the Turkish government to hold urgent talks," said Ali al-Dabbagh, Maliki's spokesman. Iraqi Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi is in Turkey for talks with Erdogan and President Abdullah Gul.
In its most explicit call for restraint to date, the White House urged Turkey to refrain from unilateral action that could further destabilise Iraq.
"We all have an interest in a stable Iraq and a desire to see the PKK brought to justice," White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe said.
"But we urge the Turks to continue their discussions with us and the Iraqis and to show restraint from any potentially destabilizing actions."
The White House fears that a Turkish incursion might upset one of the few areas in Iraq enjoying relative stability and spill over into nearby countries that also have Kurdish populations.
Mounting violence by the PKK, listed as a terrorist group by Turkey and much of the international community, including the United States, has increased pressure on Erdogan to take action against the rebels.
But Erdogan underlined that a Turkish military incursion is unlikely to be immediate.
A military operation will take place "if there is a need, at the right time, at the right place and in a manner to obtain the best result," Erdogan said.
Ankara says the PKK enjoys free movement in northern Iraq and obtains weapons and explosives there for attacks inside Turkey.
It has accused the Iraqi Kurds, who run the region, of tolerating and even supporting the rebels.
The threats of a Turkish incursion coincide with a time of tense US-Turkish relations over a pending vote in the House of Representatives for a resolution labelling the World War I mass killings of Armenians under the Ottoman Empire as genocide.
Turkey and Iraq signed an accord last month to combat the PKK but failed to agree on a clause allowing Turkish troops to engage in "hot pursuit" -- as they did regularly in the 1990s -- against rebels fleeing into Iraqi territory.
Observers here also doubt that the embattled Baghdad government, which has virtually no authority over northern Iraq, can cajole the Iraqi Kurds into action against the PKK.
The PKK has waged a bloody campaign for Kurdish self-rule in southeast Turkey since 1984 in a conflict that has claimed more than 37,000 lives.