(Reuters) Turkey said on Monday it would exhaust diplomatic channels before launching any military strike into northern Iraq to root out Kurdish rebels, who killed at least a dozen Turkish soldiers in fighting over the weekend.
Turkey has built up its forces along the border with Iraq in preparation for an incursion against rebel bases, although Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan has pressed Iraq to curb the Kurdish separatists first.
"If expected developments do not take place in the next few days, we will have to take care of our own situation," Erdogan said Monday.
U.S. President George W. Bush expressed his "deep concern" about Kurdish rebel attacks and told Turkish President Abdullah Gul the United States would continue to urge Iraq's government to act against the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) rebels, the White House said.
Bush also spoke with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and the two agreed to work with Turkey to prevent the rebels from carrying out attacks from Iraqi soil.
"We want the Iraqi government to take swift action to stop the activity of the PKK," White House spokesman Tony Fratto said. "We do not want to see wider military action on the northern border."
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Britain's visiting foreign secretary, David Miliband, said they had proposed a meeting in Istanbul next month of officials from the United States, Turkey and Iraq to discuss how to stop the attacks.
The two top diplomats said in a statement the proposed meeting would look at how to implement a September 28 anti-terrorism deal signed by Iraq and Turkey.