( dpa ) - US President George W Bush sought to assure his Turkish counterpart, Abdullah Gul, during a meeting at the White House Tuesday that the United States is committed to confronting PKK rebels seeking refuge in Iraq.
"One such problem is our continuing fight against a common enemy and that's terrorists," Bush said. "And such a common enemy is the PKK. It's an enemy to Turkey, it's an enemy to Iraq, and it's an enemy to people who want to live in peace."
The Turkish military in December carried out large strikes in northern Iraq against suspected PKK targets to retaliate for attacks by the Kurdish separatist rebel group on Turkish soil.
Bush has cautioned Turkey about large scale military activities in northern Iraq over concerns it could destabilize one of the relatively peaceful areas of the country. The United States has urged
Turkey to work closely with the Iraqi government to counter the PKK, which stands for Kurdish Workers' Party and is regarded by the United States as a terrorist organization.
"The United States is, along with Turkey, confronting these folks. And we will continue to confront them, for the sake of peace," Bush said.
Turkey is a close NATO ally of the United States, but there have been tensions between the two countries over the PKK and failed congressional attempts to label the deaths of more than 1 million
Armenians between 1915 and 1923 "genocide." The Bush administration opposed the measure.
"Our relations are important," Gul said through a translator. "And we will continue to work together to ensure that peace, stability, and prosperity continue to grow around the world."
"We are also working against our common enemy, the PKK, and we have once again underlined the importance of our cooperation in fighting against the PKK," he added.
Bush reiterated his administration's position backing Turkish membership in the European Union.
"I strongly believe that Europe will benefit when Turkey is a member of the European Union," Bush said. "I have held this position ever since I've been the president. I feel it as strongly today as when I first articulated it."