ZAA NKWETA, PRESENTER/PRODUCER: Kurdish officials in Iraq said on Tuesday that some 300 Turkish troops crossed about three kilometres into northern Iraq. Relations have been strained between the two since Iraq-based Kurdish rebels ambushed a Turkish military patrol, killing twelve soldiers, on October 21.
December 18, 2007
NECHIRVAN BARZANI, KURDISTAN PRIME MINISTER (SUBTITLED TRANSLATION): Yes, today we have heard that Turkish troops entered the Iraqi territories but we don’t have any details. The central and regional governments strongly condemned this operation, demanding from the U.S. to take a political stance to stop this operation.
Reuters cites Kurdish officials, saying that the Turkish troops had left less than twenty-four hours after the raid began. The operation was the first reported cross-border ground incursion by Turkish troops since their parliament approved military action in October. Turkish military released cockpit video of the weekend’s air strikes on what they say were Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) rebel bases in northern Iraq.
December 18, 2007
ABDULLAH GUL, TURKISH PRESIDENT (SUBTITLED TRANSLATION): Everybody should know that there is only one target for Turkey which is terror. There are no other goals or targets. Iraq is a brother country, a friendly neighbor for Turkey. Iraq’s stability is very important for us too. Therefore, from now on, whatever is necessary in the struggle against terrorism, it is being done.
White House spokeswoman Dana Perino refused to denounce the reported Turkish incursion, calling the outlawed PKK fighters a threat to Turkey, Iraq, and the United States. The incursion overshadowed U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s surprise visit to Kirkuk to discuss an Iraqi national reconciliation road map. The meeting was snubbed by Kurdistani President Massoud Barzani because of what he called U.S. tolerance of Turkish terror and artillery strikes targeting separatists based in northern Iraq.
BARZANI: It was decided that a meeting would be held between U.S. Secretary Rice and the president of the Kurdistan region Massoud Barzani in Baghdad but the latter cancelled this meeting in protest against Turkish aggression in the north.
Please note that TRNN transcripts are typed from a recording of the program; The Real News Network cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.