( Reuters ) - U.S. commander in Iraq General David Petraeus held talks at Turkey's military General Staff on Tuesday on fighting Kurdish guerrillas based in northern Iraq, a U.S. embassy official said.
The General Staff talks with Petraeus as well as General James Cartwright, vice-chairman of the U.S. joint chiefs of staff, came amid Turkish threats of unilateral military action in northern Iraq against the Kurdish militants.
Ankara has massed up to 100,000 troops, backed up by tanks, artillery and warplanes, along its mountainous border with Iraq for a possible incursion to root out an estimated 3,000 members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) hiding there.
Turkey's military later confirmed the meeting between Petraeus and Cartwright and General Ergin Saygun, deputy chief of the Turkish General Staff, in a brief statement.
"At the meeting, cooperation and comprehensive sharing of intelligence in the continuing struggle with our common enemy the PKK were discussed," the General Staff statement said.
The talks follow a Nov. 5 meeting in Washington between U.S. President George W. Bush and Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan. At that meeting, Bush pledged more help to Turkey, a NATO ally, in fighting the PKK guerrillas.
Washington and Baghdad have urged Turkey not to mount a major incursion into mainly Kurdish northern Iraq, fearing this could destabilise the wider region.
Speaking to his ruling centre-right AK Party on Tuesday, Erdogan reaffirmed Turkey's right to stage a cross-border operation if it deemed this necessary, but put more emphasis on the political and diplomatic cooperation in tackling terrorism.
"Nobody should expect emotion from us... This issue has political, diplomatic and military dimensions. Now we are engaged in the diplomatic dimension," Erdogan said.
Analysts say Erdogan's government is reluctant to authorise a major incursion, especially as winter looms in the mountainous region, but is under heavy public pressure to take firm action and to keep up pressure on Washington and Baghdad to act.