Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is in Turkey discussing the Kurdish rebels based in northern Iraq:
Speaking after meeting with both Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Foreign Minister Ali Babacan, Rice said she had emphasized that the United States is “committed to redoubling its efforts” to help Turkey in its struggle against the rebel fighters.
“We consider this a common threat, not just to the interests of Turkey but to the interests of the United States as well,” she said at a joint news conference with Babacan. “This is going to take persistence and it’s going to take commitment — this is a very difficult problem.”
En route here, Rice told reporters in her traveling party that the United States, Turkey and Iraq will counter any attacks on Turkey by the rebels.
She didn’t specify just what that meant but did warn against doing anything that might worsen the volatile situation on the Turkish-Iraqi border.
Washington worries that a cross-border incursion would bring instability to what has been the calmest part of Iraq, and could set a precedent for other countries, like Iran, who also have conflicts with Kurdish rebels.
But Ankara has been resolute in saying that, unless it hears concrete measures the United States will take against the rebel Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, it will launch an attack.
“We have great expectations from the United States, we are at the point where words have been exhausted and where there is need for action,” Babacan said.
While the meetings took place, 2,000 police and rooftop snipers were on patrol against possible violence.
At a larger demonstration in Istanbul, about 200 marchers organized by the small Communist Party of Turkey chanted “Down with American imperialism” and “Get out Rice” as they carried an effigy of Rice and a sign saying “Unite against the United States.”