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Turkey Says Sanctions to Target Only PKK Rebels, Supporters


Turkey says planned economic sanctions aimed at Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq and their supporters will not harm Turkish and Iraqi citizens who are unaffiliated with the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan Thursday declined to announce what the new economic sanctions would include. But he told a news conference in Ankara that Turkey does not want to cause difficulty to the civilian population in Turkey and Iraq.

Earlier Thursday, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the sanctions approved Wednesday by Turkey's Cabinet are not yet in force. He also denied a NTV news channel television report that Turkey had closed its airspace to flights to and from northern Iraq as part of the measure.

But Foreign Minister Babacan said flight restrictions remain a possibility. He said Turkey has imposed restrictions on flights before and may do so again.

Ankara accuses PKK rebels of launching attacks in southeastern Turkey from bases in Iraq.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is expected to meet with officials in Turkey Friday for talks on the situation, while Prime Minister Erdogan is to meet with President Bush at the White House November 5.

Wednesday, the U.S. Defense Department said it is providing Ankara with intelligence on Kurdish rebels that could enable the Turkish military to take action against them. A Pentagon spokesman said the United States has been providing "more and more" information as a result of recent developments.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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