US Gen. Ray Odierno (C), accompanied by US Ambassador to Turkey James Jeffrey (L), attended talks with Interior Minister Beşir Atalay and other Turkish officials in Ankara on Wednesday.
The top US general in Iraq met with senior civilian and military officials in the Turkish capital on Wednesday for talks focused on ways to eliminate members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) holed up in northern Iraq, stressing that Washington wants to cooperate not only with the Iraqi and Turkish governments to end the violent activities of the PKK, but also with the government of the autonomous Kurdistan region in northern Iraq.
Gen. Raymond Odierno, the commanding general of US forces in Iraq, who arrived in Ankara on Tuesday evening, was at the Interior Ministry on Wednesday morning as he visited Ankara at the invitation of Interior Minister Beşir Atalay.
Odierno was accompanied by US Ambassador to Turkey James Jeffrey during the Interior Ministry meeting, while Atalay was accompanied by key civilian, military and intelligence officials: Turkey’s Ambassador to Iraq Murat Özçelik; Prime Ministry Undersecretary Efkan Ala; Interior Ministry Undersecretary Osman Güneş; Deputy Chief of General Staff Gen. Aslan Güner; Gen. Erdal Öztürk, chief of the General Staff Operations Department; Oğuz Kağan Köksal, the head of the Security General Directorate; and National Intelligence Organization (MİT) Undersecretary Emre Taner.
The high-profile meeting at the Interior Ministry was part of a trilateral mechanism between Turkey, the United States and Iraq tasked with coordinating the efforts of the three countries, including the regional Kurdish administration running northern Iraq, to eliminate the PKK, which is listed as a terrorist organization by a large majority of the international community. The evacuation of Makhmour, a refugee camp populated by Turkish Kurds who fled Turkey in the 1990s, was another top item on the agenda of the talks.
Later in the day, Odierno also held talks with Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu.
In a statement released on Tuesday, Odierno reiterated his country’s support and commitment for working with Turkey to confront terrorism, while strongly condemning the PKK’s terrorist activities.
“The United States is working with the government of Turkey and the government of Iraq — including the Kurdistan Regional Government — to ensure cross-border security and an end to PKK terrorism. We hope to discuss broad-based solutions to combating terrorism. It is important that we develop a common understanding of the root causes of violence, so we can assist in determining political, economic and security measures that will contribute to the increased security and safety of the Turkish and Iraqi people,” Odierno said.
Last summer, the Turkish government launched a democratization initiative which also envisions expanding rights for the country’s Kurdish people, thus eradicating the grounds for support and sympathy of the PKK.
04 February 2010, Thursday
TODAY’S ZAMAN ANKARA
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