Odierno vows to help Iraq and Turkey against PKK

Türkiye Materials 25 October 2008 16:05 (UTC +04:00)

Top US Commander in Iraq General Ray Odierno has pledged to work with the Iraqi and Turkish governments to halt any attacks by the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) against Turkey, a US military statement said Saturday, reported dpa.

Odierno met in Turkey Saturday with General Hasan Igsiz, deputy chief of Turkish General Staff, to discuss military cooperation and "US forces' ongoing assistance to Turkey in its effort to defeat the Kurdish rebel group known as the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK," according to the statement.

A spate of PKK attacks killed dozens of Turkish soldiers and civilians, sparking public outcry and pledges from Turkish leaders to deal with the group, the statement noted.

The PKK is recognized as a terrorist organization by both the US and European Union.

"The PKK is a terrorist organization and has committed heinous crimes against the Turkish people," the statement quoted Odierno as saying.

"I'm committed to work with the Government of Turkey and the Government of Iraq to prevent further atrocities."

The statement added that Odierno pledged US support in the form of technical assistance and information-sharing to help its allies prevent further attacks in the near future.

Ankara blames the separatist group for the deaths of more than 35,000 people since the early 1980s, when the PKK began its fight for independence or autonomy for the mainly Kurdish-populated south-east of Turkey.

PKK attacks have been a bone of contention in Iraqi-Turkish ties, but last week Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki told Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan in a phone call that the two countries, along with the US, should work together to "end the danger" posed by the PKK, Turkish media reported.